Elisabeth R. Finch also outlined what it takes to create lasting change in the workplace

By Maureen Lee Lenker
March 21, 2018 at 09:10 PM EDT
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A former writer for The Vampire Diaries claims she experienced abuse on the set of that series by a director, as she detailed in a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, and outlined what people in power must do to foment real change.

Elisabeth R. Finch claims that, while overseeing the production on the first day of an episode of Vampire Diaries she wrote, she called attention to an actor missing from rehearsal, at which point the director of the episode, who she did not name in her column, allegedly called her a “c–t” and stroked and pinched her cheek.

Finch says throughout the shoot she endured inappropriate and unwanted touching from the director, as well as listening to him make “lewd jokes about actresses’ bodies.” She says she never complained or spoke out against the behavior during the shoot. On the final day, she ran into showrunner Julie Plec, to whom she eventually admitted the director was “not nice.”

Then, Finch says, Plec started yelling at her. “She tells me I was wrong. Wrong to assume that my job is to just suck it up and pretend it’s fine. Wrong not to tell her on day one. In that moment, I understand she’s not yelling at me,” Finch wrote. “She is not shaming me. She is clear. And unwavering. And wants to be sure I hear every damn word when she says: ‘It is not your job to take abuse or accept unacceptable behavior because you’re young and a woman. That is not your job.’ There is no judgment or blame in her voice, only strength and certainty. And it’s because of that strength and certainty I hear her, I believe her.”

Finch says the director did not work on The Vampire Diaries again after that, and that when Plec invited her back to work on the next season, she told her, “I promise never to put you in the same room with [that director] ever again.”

The column also addresses the broader impact of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, speaking specifically to the work women are doing to foment lasting change.

“After the #MeToo wave began, I made it clear in my office that no complaint was too small to be brought to me directly,” Plec says, as noted in Finch’s column. “I opened the proverbial door in hopes that everyone who worked with me could and should feel comfortable approaching me with anything on their mind.” Finch also shares a story from Plec, admitting issues exist in terms of reporting such claims up the chain of command and ensuring better follow-through moving forward.

Finally, Finch, now an executive producer on Grey’s Anatomy, calls on men and women to make the necessary changes to create safer worker environments. “Julie — and every powerful female boss I’ve had since — doesn’t need to be a woman to prioritize the safety of her employees over any one man’s ego or financial bottom line. She just has the power — and willingness — to do so,” she concludes.

Representatives for The CW did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.

Read the full THR story here.

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Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.
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