Russell Simmons Doc Director Kirby Dick Says Sexual Assault Is ‘Everyone’s Issue,’ Not Just Women’s

Power Women Summit 2020: “On the Record” filmmakers discuss their journey to get film examining the sexual assault allegations against music mogul released on HBO Max

Kirby Dick, the co-director and co-producer of HBO Max’s “On the Record” documentary, said women cannot be the only ones putting in the work to change the culture around sexual assault.

“Let’s be clear that sexual assault is not a women’s issue. This is everyone’s issue,” Dick said at TheWrap’s Power Women Summit. “And if anything, I think it’s the responsibility of men, obviously much more than women, to step up.”

“This is an issue that has been buried for so long, he continued. “It’s going to take multiple films, it’s going to take multiple investigations, a lot of journalists, a lot of filmmakers … and the public as a whole, and activists, to come together to help change this issue.”

Dick, alongside co-director and co-producer Amy Ziering, shared their journey to releasing “On the Record” during a Q&A presented by HBO Max. The documentary delves into the lives of some of the women who said they’ve been sexually assaulted by music mogul Russell Simmons and contextualizes the hurdles these women faced in coming forward through the lens of hip-hop and its significance within the Black community. (Simmons has repeatedly denied accusations of misconduct.)

Earlier this year, “On the Record” faced a setback when Oprah Winfrey withdrew as an executive producer and, with that, the film’s ability to release on Apple TV+. At the time, Winfrey said that while Simmons “pressured” her to drop the documentary, he was not the reason why she ultimately dropped out; instead, she believed there was “more work to be done on the film to illuminate the full scope of what the victims endured” and that she was not “aligned in that creative vision” with the filmmakers. (Representatives for Winfrey and her production company did not immediately respond to additional requests for comment.)

Despite the unfolding of events earlier this year, the filmmakers said they are still “extremely grateful” to Winfrey.

“We’re honestly and extremely grateful. The film would not be what it is without her incredible contributions, it never would have gotten made. So we credit her entirely for it, for everything,” Ziering said.

As for those who may wonder if Winfrey’s decision to pull out questions the credibility of the women’s accounts, Ziering and Dick stand by their film.

“We’ve not ever, in fact in any of our films, have had to do one retraction of any information we’ve put forward. I mean, our things are rigorously fact-checked. We’re scrupulous, we’re extremely truth-based,” Ziering said. “We knew that nothing would come up, and nothing has.”

Check out Kirby and Zieiring full Power Women Summit conversation below:

The Power Women Summit, presented by the WrapWomen Foundation, is the largest annual gathering of the most influential women in entertainment, media and technology. The Summit aims to inspire and empower women across the landscape of their professional careers and personal lives. This year’s all-virtual PWS provides three days of education, mentorship, workshops and networking around the globe to promote “Inclusion 360,” this year’s theme.