Jesse Williams Says He 'Can't Sweat' Take Me Out Nude Video Leak: 'I'm Not Down About It'
Jesse Williams appears to be brushing off the exposing sneak peek at his Broadway debut.
The Tony Award nominee, 40, broke his silence since the recent video leak of his full-frontal nude scene from the Broadway revival of Take Me Out, explaining that he "can't sweat" the revealing moment during an interview with the Associated Press.
"I'm not down about it. Our job is to go out there every night, no matter what," Williams said.
However, he has noticed the support he's received since the leak, adding that "we do need to keep advocating for ourselves. And it's wonderful to see a community push back and make clear what we do stand for, what we don't."
"Theater is a sacred space, and everybody doesn't understand that," Williams said. "Everybody doesn't necessarily respect or regard that in a way that maybe they should, or we'd like."
Williams noted that the onstage nudity is "honest" and "makes sense" in the context of Richard Greenberg's play, which is mainly set in an MLB locker room. "It's not salacious. It serves the story. It puts the audience in an interesting position to relate, to empathize with, the characters," he added.
The video leaked Monday, as Williams' performance as gay professional baseball player Darren Lemming earned him a Tony Award nomination for best featured actor in a play. He's up against his costars Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Michael Oberholtzer for the honor.
Ferguson, 46, was one of many to stand up for Williams and speak out against the leak. "I'm appalled by the disrespect shown to the actors of our company whose vulnerability on stage ever[y] night is crucial to Take Me Out," he wrote on Twitter.
"Anyone who applauds or trivializes this behavior has no place in the theater which has always been a safe space for artists & audience members," Ferguson added.
Actors' Equity Association President Kate Shindle also condemned the leak, which she labeled "both sexual harassment and an appalling breach of consent" in a statement.
"As actors, we regularly agree to be vulnerable onstage in order to tell difficult and challenging stories," Shindle said. "This does not mean that we agree to have those vulnerable moments widely shared by anyone who feels like sneaking a recording device into the theater."
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The play's production company, Second Stage Theater, referenced their "phone-free" policy for the show "with locked phone cases at all performances" in another statement.
"Taking naked pictures of anyone without their consent is highly objectionable and can have severe legal consequences," the statement read in part. "Posting it on the internet is a gross and unacceptable violation of trust between the actor and audience forged in the theater community."
The show's Broadway home, the Helen Hayes Theater, has since installed infrared cameras facing the audience to monitor potential phone users, PEOPLE confirmed Thursday.