Laverne Cox has dropped out of forthcoming documentary Sell/Buy/Date following “outrage” from sex workers on social media.
The film sees Tony Award-winning playwright Sarah Jones make her feature directorial debut, adapting her 2016 Off Broadway stage production of the same name.
Rashida Jones and Meryl Streep had joined the project as executive producers alongside Cox.
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In a statement shared on Twitter, Cox wrote: “When I agreed to come on as an executive producer of “Sell, Buy Date” I did so because I was so deeply moved by Sarah Jones’ brilliant play and her unbelievable, undeniable talent as an artist, as an actor.
“I signed on to support her incredible talent. I have so much love for her as a human being. But I am not in an emotional place to deal with the outrage by some around my participation in this project. So I have decided to pull out.”
She continued: “To be clear I am no longer involved in any capacity in “Sell. Buy, Date.” I have to take care of my mental, physical and emotional health. This is all I have to say on the matter.”
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) January 7, 2021
“Many of the characters are portrayed as one-dimensional and as caricatures,” said sex worker and activist Allie Awesome, in a statement obtained by Rolling Stone after watching an excerpt of Sell/Buy/Date in a TED talk by Jones.
“To see sex workers and our allies to be used as a punchline and laughed at by a TED audience is quite upsetting for me to watch.”
Sex workers’ rights activist Kate D’Adamo added: “This is another moment where everyone gets to capitalize on the sex trade — you have a host of people who use sex workers as a scapegoat, catalyst, muse, target — except for people who trade sex.
“This is another moment of erasure by people who aren’t impacted by this conversation who get to exploit a hot topic in hopes of a Golden Globe nomination.”
Representatives for Jones, Cox and Streep are yet to comment on Cox’s exit. Production on Sell/Buy/Date is set to begin in Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas in March 2021.