Variety’s Power of Women celebration featured three women who told their stories in “Surviving R. Kelly,” Lisa Van Allen, Asante McGee and Kitty Jones, all of whom have leveled serious charges of sexual misconduct against R. Kelly.
In introducing the survivors, Lifetime’s Brie Bryant noted that the show started with two survivors and ended up with 54 — and 26.8 million viewers. She recalled Me Too founder Tarana Burke’s words at this event last year: “’Movements are made from moments,’” she said. “’Surviving R. Kelly is a movement, and it ignited a much-needed global conversation. The journey of these survivors does not start or stop with this documentary. For those of us who have been privileged to be a part of ‘Surviving R. Kelly,’ we will carry this experience with us forever.”
She then brought to the stage survivors Lisa Van Allen, Asante McGee and Kitty Jones, all of whom appeared in “Surviving R. Kelly.” After a standing ovation from the audience, all three were weeping as they gave their names and said “I am a survivor.”
“My journey started two decades ago,” Van Allen said. “I met Robert at 17. I testified against him with the prosecution in 2008 — and rather than people believing me, they acted as if I was on trial. All that changed with ‘Surviving R. Kelly,” she said. “And I’m very glad to have [that audience] as the most important jury of all.
McGee introduced herself and then said, “I once was the die-hard fan of R. Kelly — if you said anything negative about him I would beat you up. I dated him for a little over two years — it was two weeks after I moved in with him before I met Robert: R. Kelly is the [performer], Robert is the devil. After I left, I knew I had to do something, so I contacted the parents of the girls who are in the house with him. I will continue this journey — I will not be silenced. My goal is to get one girl home one day at a time.”
Jones spoke last. “Coming from a background in radio, I was always the voice of my community and I never thought that one day my voice would be silenced and fear would be instilled in me by my abuser. Because I was not underage, I was not [taken as seriously]. But standing for my truth was very important and it’s important that people know that abuse has no limit — you’re not exempt, it could happen to anyone. I want to thank Lifetime for giving us the platform to tell our stories. It’s been very empowering and liberating for us to know that we’re being heard.”
Variety’s Power of Women New York event, presented by Lifetime, also honored Kacey Musgraves, Taraji P. Henson, Gigi Hadid, Bette Midler and Christiane Amanpour. Read our full coverage.