The Hollywood manager who helped launch the careers of Halle Berry and Taraji P. Henson is being accused of sexual harassment. The Washington Post interviewed nine women who claimed Vincent Cirrincione made unwanted sexual advances toward them.
We spoke to two of Cirrincione's accusers, and both said he was known for his ability to market black actresses in a mostly white Hollywood. Cirrincione's alleged victims said it was his status as an industry gatekeeper that allowed him to take advantage of so many women.
Cirrincione was there when Berry became the first and only African-American woman to win an Academy Award for best actress in 2002.
It was Cirrincione's reputation for boosting the careers of Berry and Henson that prompted other aspiring actresses to seek his representation. Actress and filmmaker Tamika Lamison said Cirrincione even took a call from Berry on speaker phone before she started her audition. But things quickly took a turn.
"In the middle of the poem, he grabbed me and kissed me, he stuck his tongue in my mouth, and I was shocked, I pushed him away," Lamison said. She said Cirrincione then offered to take her on as a client only if she was readily available for sex.
Another accuser, Peppur Chambers, said she felt she had no choice but to continue working with Cirrincione because he was producing her burlesque show. The writer and producer said Cirrincione tried to kiss her "when I was sitting with him on the couch watching television."
"I sacrificed my integrity. I sacrificed who I was as a woman in order to produce a show that I believed in," Chambers said.
Cirrincione released a statement to the Washington Post, admitting to "affairs while in committed relationships" but said he "never used favors, sexual or otherwise, as a reason for managing anyone" and that "not one of those relationships were anything but consensual."
But Lamison and Chambers said it was his perceived influence in Hollywood that allowed him to exploit other minority actresses.
"Given what he did and the way that he preyed on women… obviously they felt their livelihood was in jeopardy," Lamison said.
Cirrincione has not responded to our request for comment. Berry no longer works with him, but released a statement saying she is "livid" he used her success "to manipulate innocent, vulnerable women of color." Henson said the allegations have "shocked, hurt, and offended." We reached out to see if Cirrincione was still employed as her manager, but she has yet to respond.