Editor’s Note: Arianne Zucker is a film and television actress best known for her work on “Days of Our Lives.” Follow her on Twitter: @Ari_Zucker. The views expressed in this commentary are solely hers.
My name is Arianne Zucker. Yes, I am the girl in the “Access Hollywood” video that caused huge controversy last October during the presidential campaign.
Being the “girl in the video” is definitely not the glamorous title I was dreaming about when I was little.
In 2004, I was asked by the television show I was appearing on at the time to welcome the “Access Hollywood” Bus carrying then-citizen and “The Apprentice” star Donald Trump and “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush. My job was to greet the guests, walk them into the studio where we would be filming, and cross-promote our three television shows. I had no idea about the remarks made before they stepped off that bus until the Washington Post called my management a few hours before the tape was released publicly.
Why do I offer this explanation? To be very clear that I was there to fulfill a job. I could never have predicted what Donald Trump or Billy Bush would say prior to their arrival. Once I saw them get off the bus, my work began. Of course, since we were surrounded by 25 crew members, cameras and a busy schedule, there was no unusual behavior.
Now that the “Access Hollywood” tape is back in the news after reports that Donald Trump questions its authenticity, I am puzzled for this reason: Just from experience, anyone who has ever been on television before, with a microphone pinned to them, should always assume that someone is listening. And when you get caught speaking poorly about someone, at least own up to it.
People ask me whether I need or want an individual apology from either now-President Trump or Billy Bush. Well, apologizing to me would be the appropriate thing to do. Am I losing sleep over it waiting for one? Absolutely not.
I refuse to let a situation such as this one take away my emotional power. You are who you allow yourself to be and I did not and will not let this event or any of its aftermath affect who I am as a woman, mother, daughter, friend and partner to a great man.
I believe the ones who feel the need to lie, or to use their power to dominate women, are really just fearful. Fearful of their egos being bruised, fearful that they will be wrong about something, fearful that other people will figure out who they really are.
When a predator feels superior, it is so easy to pick on those who don’t fight back. I think so many predators at one time in their own lives have been bullied or harassed or possibly even assaulted. Why else would they feel the need to dehumanize other people later on in life?
I have been assaulted myself and I have spent a great deal of time healing from that emotional and physical abuse. Now, I have no fear and I know no one will ever do that to me again. I know I am not alone.
Today, we have to ask the difficult question: “What do we do now”? What do we do as we hear all of these horrendous stories of men in powerful positions taking advantage of people and refusing to accept the consequences of their actions?
My hope – and my goal in writing this piece – is that women and the good men in this world will build each other up and recognize those who have been harassed and in doing so, help prevent any more of this from happening.
We are powerful in numbers and it takes courage to stand up and be counted. We need to unify in our homes and workplaces to protect, rescue and save one another. I have no doubt that we can be heroes for each other no matter how big or small the feat.
If people in power won’t make the difference, then everyday citizens can and will. But it takes fortitude. It takes one brave person to start the process wherever you are, wherever you work and wherever you live.
We are living in an unbelievable time, an extraordinary time for women to step into the light and stand where we always should have been. Equal to any man.