Colombian soap opera star Ximena Duque adds her name to the “Me Too” movement after describing an indecent proposal from an executive 14 years ago.
The 32-year-old, who had guest roles on Days of Our Lives and Queen of the South, told Telemundo’s show Suelta la Sopa that when she was starting out as an actress, she had to put a disrespectful executive in his place, and, she said, it likely hindered her career.
When Suelta host Luis Alfonso Borrego mentioned the “Me too” phenomenon and asked if someone powerful had ever offered to advance her career in exchange for an action that violated her moral code, she said: “It happened to me and it was very sad because I was very disappointed. I said to myself: ‘If this is what the career I want to pursue is like, then I’d rather not do it. I’d rather not follow this path.”
‘I Choose the Long Way’
It happened over a decade ago, after she participated in Protagonistas de novela, a reality show for aspiring soap opera actors. “He tells me: ‘I have all [these job offers] for you, soap operas, you will have a leading role tomorrow. And I said: ‘Where do I sign?’” she recounted. “After I signed, he calls me into his office one day and says: ‘I have the perfect plan for you. I’m going to explain to you how this profession works. There is the long way and there is the short way. The short way is very simple, you and I go out with a couple of executives from different companies — and you can have your leading role tomorrow. Or there is the long way, which will take a long time and who knows when you will get your leading role, or when you will be cast in a soap opera, but you decide.'”
She told Borrego she chose not to ‘entertain’ the executives. “I looked at him and said: ‘It doesn’t matter how long it takes me, whether it’s 10 years or 20, I choose the long way. And it has been a long way because I still haven’t had a leading role.”
Duque has had important roles in Telemundo soap operas like Corazón Valiente and Dueños del paraíso, but still dreams of being a protagonist. She is married to American businessman Jay Adkins and the couple is expecting their daughter Luna in a few weeks.
Duque said she’s proud to never have not taken the easy road. “The moment you make the decision to do something like that, to sell yourself or give yourself away for a role, it’s very sad. But if you already did it, there is no sense in regretting it,” she said. “I ask myself: ‘How far will a woman go?’… As a woman, you set the limit. If you tell the executive or that person who is giving you a compliment, ‘What’s wrong with you? Goodbye!’ then doors will close for you. So that’s where you have to use your intelligence, but that intelligence has to have a limit.”
She concluded that actors that trade in sexual favors for career advancement or have a special ‘patron’ in the industry are in a very vulnerable position. “It not only happens to women nowadays, also to men. It’s very sad that there are men who have had to sleep with another man for a role,” she said. “People who are in that situation now may get their leading role tomorrow, but your career is over like this,” she says clicking her fingers, “when that executive is no longer there.”