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Vice News Correspondent Antonia Hylton Says Sexism Is Rampant in ‘Messed Up’ News Industry

Power Women Summit: ”White men will comment on my hair and my age and it’s very clearly a tactic to lower my self-confidence before the interview begins,“ reporter says

Antonia Hylton, a correspondent and producer for “VICE News Tonight,” says much of the sexism she’s faced as a black female reporter was out in the field, by men who frequently comment on her age and her hair.

“Many are still not used to sitting across from a black woman with natural hair,” Hylton told the audience at TheWrap’s Power Women Summit in Downtown Los Angeles Friday. “White men will comment on my hair and my age and it’s very clearly a tactic to lower my self-confidence before the interview begins.”

Hylton, known for fearless interviews of gang members on Chicago’s West Side, said she’s encountered sexism from her own colleagues at times.

“I’ve had cameramen and freelancers start working on projects who talk about the way that I look or the way  that I sound,” she said. “Those are the things that I find all the time in the industry that are still really messed up.”

Hylton spoke during a panel on “Women on the Front Lines,” moderated by former Glamour editor-in-chief  Cindi Leive. She was joined two of her fellow Vice correspondents Elle Reeve and Isobel Yeung.

“There is still a really fundamental problem in the way that people approach women,” Hylton told the audience. “They don’t think of them as being well-read, they don’t think of them as being able to ask really tough questions.”

Reeve, who rose to national prominence after covering the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, said she too battled sexism while covering stories. Reeve recalled an interview with a man who owned a Confederate-themed dinosaur amusement park. At one point the man asked her to turn around, so he could “fix something.”

“He then proceeded to pick up a 15-foot octopus tentacle and touched my butt,” she said. “On camera!”

She said she thought he had hit her by accident until she screened the tapes later. Leive, the moderator, asked if it was sexual assault. Reeve answered that she wasn’t sure — until she watched the tape later.

“I was like, ‘Oh, O.K.. That’s what you did,” she said.

Yeung discussed her reporting on sexism and misogyny in a recent Vice special called “Consent.” She said she decided to focus on the issue after Babe.net published an interview with Grace, the pseudonym given to an unnamed woman who accused actor and comedian Aziz Ansari of sexual misconduct for not heeding her cues that she didn’t want to have sex with him.

“Is that just just bad sex? Is that rape?” she asked. “And that was the conversation I was having with my friends.”

“There just seemed to be so much noise on both sides of the debate and it seemed to be such a politicized partisan topic and I just really didn’t understand why,” Yeung said. “And so the goal of the documentary was to to break through that noise and to try and make something that contributed to that conversation.”

“It is one of those topics that has just not gone away,” she said.

Just a few days before the historic midterm election, the focus of the summit is to achieve gender equity in Hollywood, with the theme, “The Road to 50/50 By 2020.”

The summit is the largest gathering ever assembled of the most influential women in entertainment and media, attended and supported by studios, news organizations and non-profits across the entertainment industry landscape. It is presented by the WrapWomen Foundation, a division of TheWrap News.