Taraji P. Henson, star of the new action movie “Proud Mary,” publicly responded Sunday to news that her manager, Vincent Cirrincione, has been accused of sexually harassing women of color over a period of two decades.
Henson, in an Instagram post, said the news, first reported by The Washington Post, “shocked, hurt, offended and yet again put professional women in a position to not trust the men they work with.”
“Everyone knows how difficult this industry has been for women and my hope is that all of these unspeakable events ignite true change in the treatment of women in this entertainment business,” Henson wrote.
“I feel saddened, disappointed and ashamed. We deserve better,” she wrote. “THIS HAS TO STOP!!!”
Henson has yet to publicly sever professional ties with Cirrincione, her manager of two decades who has also been her producing partner. Her publicist, Pam Sharp, is Cirrincione’s longtime girlfriend.
Henson told The Post in an interview last week that she regarded Cirrincione as a “father figure” who helped her rise in Hollywood. She said she never experienced, witnessed or heard about any inappropriate behavior by Cirrincione toward women.
“I’ve never had any issue with this on any level,” Henson said. “He totally respected me.”
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 was also Halle Berry’s manager for more than 25 years. The nine women of color who spoke to The Post about their experiences with Cirrincione said the manager regularly dangled Berry’s and later, Henson’s, stardom as bait in an effort to get them to comply with his sexual requests.
Several of the women said they viewed Cirrincione, who is white, as a gatekeeper for black actresses in an industry notoriously difficult to break into — one whose path is even more narrow for minorities. They said he took advantage of that dynamic to prey upon young women of color seeking an entry into Hollywood.
They allege that Cirrincione pushed for sex as a condition for representing them, and that he did not take them on when they refused. Those he did work with say he made regular requests for sex, at times masturbating in front of one woman during their meetings in his office.
Cirrincione told The Post that he accepts responsibility for pursuing sexual relationships but denies allegations that he sought sexual favors in exchange for representing actresses. He apologized to the women but characterized all of his interactions with women as “consensual.”
Berry told The Post that she immediately terminated her relationship with Cirrincione more than three years ago after hearing a radio report about a misconduct allegation against him — a story that had not been previously reported. Cirrincione disputes her account of how their relationship ended.
Berry, too, said had Cirrincione had never made any inappropriate gestures toward her. Nor did she hear about any such behavior from anyone during the time they worked together.
Hours after the story was published Friday, Berry posted a public note on Twitter and Instagram saying that she was “sick after reading the horrifying detailed accounts of [Cirrincione’s] abuse towards 9 women.”
“I’m livid that he used me, and the role model he helped me become, to lure and manipulate innocent, vulnerable women of color for his predatory actions,” Berry wrote in her post. “I’m deeply hurt and I want these women and countless others to know I see you. I hear you. You matter. I will fight for you.”
Actor Jussie Smollett was the first of Cirrincione’s roster of more than two dozen clients to publicly announce that he has “severed all ties with Cirrincione & associates” after reading The Post’s story.
“I am both angry and completely heartbroken,” Smollett tweeted Saturday. Smollett stars with Henson in the Fox TV drama “Empire,” about the music industry.