Tristan Coopersmith, who in January accused Republic Records president and “The Four” judge Charlie Walk of sexual misconduct, has only one regret about coming forward with her account.
Just minutes after posting an open letter to Walk on her business website, Coppersmith said she was inundated with angry messages from internet trolls — an unexpected side effect that made her fear for her son’s safety.
“I was informed by lawyers that I needed to not go to work for the week and to send security with my son to school for the week and that really stopped me dead in my tracks,” Coopersmith told TheWrap. “I’ve done something that clearly matters, which was amazing, but now how do I navigate this?”
Much of her time was taken up by “the dark side of it,” Coppersmith said. “I really wanted to live in the light side of it because I did feel such liberation and freedom.”
“I felt my role in this was to hold space for other women who were experiencing the same thing,” she added.
In late January, Coopersmith, now a psychotherapist, published an extraordinary j’accuse, in which she said Walk made “lewd comments,” sent her “vulgar” texts, and groped her under a dinner table between 2004 and 2005. At one point, she said, Walk cornered her during an event at his home, pushed her into his bedroom and onto his bed, all while his wife was in the next room.
“I went to work every day with these bright eyes and tall, and little by little I just got smaller and smaller and smaller,” Coopersmith told TheWrap of working at Sony Music. “I was so afraid every time he would reach out to me, every time he would call me or text message me or ask me to come into his office because there were always sexual overtones.”
Walk, who denied the allegations, stepped down from Fox’s reality show “The Four” soon after Coopersmith’s letter came out. In March, Walk and Republic Records agreed to “part ways” after several more women accused him of sexual misconduct. This alleged conduct also tarred Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group President John Amato, who was accused of burying the accusations in his publication. He resigned his job in July.
Coopersmith said she wrote the letter mostly as a “therapeutic exercise” at first. “When I posted my story, I felt for the first time in 13 years so much relief,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s all I had to do?… And two hours later my phone started blowing up.”
The next two months, she said, were a whirlwind of media calls and internet trolls.
“I was very naive about what was to come,” she said. “My social media got attacked. My business was attacked. I was informed by lawyers that I needed to not go to work for the week and to send security with my son to school for the week and that really stopped me dead in my tracks. I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve done something that clearly matters,’ which was amazing. But now how do I navigate this?”
What made you decide to publish that letter?
I had held on to a secret for so long and I really didn’t need to address it until the Harvey Weinstein allegations came out and it all kind of resurfaced. These are the demons in my closet and they’re right front and center, and I was having nightmares and flashbacks… I was holding on to really, really deep shame, and when we hold on to shame, it multiplies in its silence… And so I shared it because I couldn’t not share it anymore.
What happened next?
I felt liberated, I was free… I felt so good. I went right back to work, within minutes. And two hours later my phone started blowing up and I was alerted by a friend that it had hit the cover of Variety. I was very naive about what was to come, about the aftermath.
It completely took me off guard. I have a kind of simple, pure little life, and I was all of a sudden at the eye of this massive media storm, up against someone who has a lot of power in the business. So my social media, all my Facebook ratings for my business, got totally tanked. There [were] fake Instagram accounts boycotting me. I got hundreds and hundreds of emails, and some of them were threatening but most of them were really, really supportive.
What was that like?
It was a time suck. So much of my time was taken up by the dark side of it. And I really wanted to live in the light side of it because I did feel such liberation and freedom… and I felt my role in this was to hold space for other women who were experiencing the same thing.
Would you have done anything differently knowing what you know today?
I have no regrets. It has been such a positive experience, and I feel that it’s our responsibility and our opportunity just as humans to be truthful, and that was a big part of why I came out. I wasn’t living in alignment with my values anymore… Part of my values are truth-speaking and transparency and connection and integrity, and I wasn’t fully walking my talk.
I was surprised at how many men reached out to me to say… “Thank you, we’ve always been wanting someone to take this guy down.” I wrote to all of them and I said, “You know, you’re part of the problem… You didn’t say anything.”
I think a lot of people go into this thinking, “Oh, once I share it, I’m going to be good to go, and I’m never going to have to look at this again.” And that’s just one piece of it… Telling the story is an amazing step, but you do need an undercurrent of support, whether that’s therapy or something else.