Vincent Cirrincione, a Hollywood manager who has represented actors like Halle Berry and Taraji P. Henson, has been accused of sexual misconduct by nine women, Washington Post reports. According to the women interviewed by the Post, Cirrincione leveraged the fact that women of color are underrepresented in television and film roles to prey on them, suggesting he could make them the next Berry in exchange for sexual favors. Of the accusers interviewed, eight are black women and one is Asian. Six of the women chose to remain anonymous.
Tamika Lamison, an actress and producer, described a meeting she had in a hotel suite with Cirrincione in 1996. Lamison said that Cirrincione put a call with Berry on speakerphone prior to their meeting, and when the call was over, forcefully kissed her as she recited a poem. She said he then told her that he would represent her if she was willing to have sex with him any time he wanted. Lamison said she balked at that offer and left.
Two other women told the Post that Cirrincione declined to represent them after they refused his advances. Another actress claimed that he masturbated in front of her while he represented her. Six of these women say they abandoned their acting aspirations entirely after enduring alleged harassment from the now 70-year-old power broker. The allegations span a period of 18 years, from 1993 to 2011. From WaPo:
Another actress who met Cirrincione in 2005 during the Los Angeles premiere party of “Hustle & Flow,” featuring Henson, said the manager invited her to audition for him. She was 36 at the time, with no television or film credits. She said he told her during her audition that he was the only manager who knew what to do with black actresses.
She said he told her he could change her life if he signed her — just as he had for Berry and Henson. Then she said he propositioned her, saying that would be part of their business deal. She told him she was not interested. The woman’s sister and then-boyfriend said she described the incident to them immediately after it occurred.
In 2015, Berry parted ways with Cirrincione in a split that was described as “amicable.” When reached for comment by the Post, the Oscar winner said that she ended their over 20-year working relationship when she says she heard a woman on a radio program attribute “her worst casting couch experience” to “Halle Berry’s manager.”
“That news literally stopped me in my tracks. I immediately confronted Vince about it, and he denied it completely. But even with his denial, something didn’t feel right in my spirit, and with the possibility that it could be true, I immediately ended our over-25-year relationship,” Berry said.
Berry did not hear the woman’s name and could not remember the radio program, according to her representative.
Henson told the Post that she had not been harassed by Cirrincione since hiring him to represent her:
“I’ve never had any issue with this on any level,” Henson said. “He totally respected me.”
Henson, who produced and stars in the new action film “Proud Mary,” said she regarded Cirrincione as a “father figure” who helped her rise in Hollywood. She said he would at times pay for her rent, child-care fees and later, her son’s school tuition.
“He saw a single mother trying to make her dreams come true, and he nurtured that,” Henson said. “He wrote checks and wouldn’t ask for anything in return. It wasn’t coming from a creepy place. If anything, it empowered me. Like this man believes in me. I love him for that.”
Cirrincione, who is not the subject of any criminal charges nor civil litigation related to the alleged misconduct, issued a denial in which he admits to engaging in sexual relationships, but insists they were all consensual. What he doesn’t do is acknowledge the tacit power imbalance between an influential show business gatekeeper and aspiring actresses at the start of their careers.
“We live in a time where men are being confronted with a very real opportunity to take responsibility for their actions. I support this movement wholeheartedly. I have had female clients and employees my entire career in this industry. I have built a reputation for advancing the careers of women of color,” Cirrincione said.
“I have had affairs while in committed relationships, ones I am now ashamed to say are coming to light and shading my past and my reputation. I can say without a doubt that I have never used favors, sexual or otherwise, as a reason for managing anyone. I want to make it clear that not one of those relationships were anything but consensual.
“I take responsibility for my part in the situation and I am not here to diminish anyone’s feelings or experiences. I apologize to these women, my past and present partner, my clients and employees for the pain this is bringing them. I was under the impression I was living my life as a supportive man to women. It is with a heavy heart that I see now I was wrong.”
Although Berry said that she was not harassed by her former manager personally, nor was she aware of improper behavior towards others, she offered solidarity to Cirrincione’s accusers.
“My heart goes out to any person who is subject to this type of behavior,” Berry said, “and I stand in support of their strength and bravery.”