It happened while Williams talked about his discomfort with onstage nudity on Watch What Happens Live.
Actor and activist Jesse Williams received a high honor Monday: his first Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play, for his debut in the Second Stage Theater revival of Richard Greenberg's Take Me Out. But this week, there was also an unfortunate circumstance of the role as well: a nude video from his performance was leaked online.
Williams performs fully nude in a scene in Take Me Out, which has earned congratulatory reviews since its April debut. And even though attendees have their phones locked away in sleeves during the performance, someone in the audience was able to capture a nude video of Williams and shared it online Monday night. Ironically, Williams was on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen discussing the role as the video went viral on Twitter.
Of being nude on stage, Williams said, “A non-reaction is a really interesting reaction. The quiet, you know. Creates a lot of insecurity.” He continued in an interview during which it was evident that no one knew the video had been leaked, “I don't like any of it. I've learned in my minutes in theater, which is all a first for me, is don't read into it. Because it just creates more insecurity.” Cohen prodded, “How insane, though, that this is your stage debut and you're, like, fully naked. I mean, that's doubly scary.” Williams responded, “I'm told it's quite insane, but it's a first so I have nothing to compare it to and I won't be scared of anything after this, that's for sure.”
Williams might be scared of Twitter today, though, as people have held back nothing in discussing the video of his nude shower scene on stage. Some have pointed out that the leak will likely lead to the play selling out, but that doesn’t take away from the uncomfortable fact that what was supposed to be a private moment in a theater with a small audience is being plastered on the web for anyone to see. Twitter has been quick to fetishize the clip in a gross way that erases any remnant of where it came from to begin with: a play. It’s unclear who leaked the video, but whoever they are, they don’t respect the theater or Williams’ Broadway debut.