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DREAM Singer Opens Up On Sexual Predation Within Music Industry

Published: Monday 16th Oct 2017 by David

In 1998 the Pop group DREAM impacted the scene with material they hoped would see them rise to levels reached by their peers TLC, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

In 2017, one of its members has revealed that her time within the industry was more akin to a nightmare.

Melissa Schuman’s story below…

She shared the following on her official site ‘Melissa Explains it All’

Sexual assault, harassment & age discrimination is no secret in Hollywood and I don’t know one female who hasn’t experienced it in one way or another. I myself have experienced all of the above. The Harvey Weinstein scandal is just the tip on the iceberg. Hollywood culture doesn’t nurture an environment that embraces women who hold to moral standards, independent thought or boundaries.

 

I never understood why women were limited to success in Hollywood after the age of 30. I knew and know so many beautiful, capable, talented and inspiring woman over the age of 30. Women I look up to and inspire me everyday.

 

Ageism. The news doesn’t cover it but it puts many women out of work in Hollywood. What I have come to accept about ageism is that it’s put in place for a reason, it communicates to women over 30 to go home, marry up and shut up. With an industry  controlled mostly by older men who feel they’re entitled to sleeping with younger women, it’s no wonder we hate getting older. No youth, no job.

 

In my 20’s I blamed myself for years for not having the same amount of success after the leaving my group DREAM. Truth be told, I had the same opportunity to make it big on my own but said no to much of what was required. My opinions and convictions gave me a reputation of being “religious” “prudish” and “hard to work with”. Not something you want to be known for at the rip age of 18.

 

This is true for both the recording industry and film industry. I recall doing a music showcase for a major record head around 2005. The music industry was still suffering and navigating its way through the repercussions of music stealing sites such as Napster and Limewire. Labels weren’t signing as many new artists as before because A&R and label heads alike were worried about loosing their jobs.

 

I did a number of these types of showcases. This one in particular I remember clear as day. The male executive that I was essentially ‘auditioning for’ proclaimed without apology and with compliment, that “Melissa’s picture needs to be on every young man’s wall across the country to masturbate to.”

 

My entire team beamed with pride and fully agreed. I was confused.Since when is this an appropriate statement to make about anyone? Despite the raving reviews of my potential profitability selling my sexuality, he still didn’t sign me.

 

So I continued on and I struggled for years to find my voice as a recording artist. Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back I understand why. Everyone around me wanted to record songs entirely focused on sex despite my spiritual and moral opposition to it. I shifted my focus again to the acting side, hoping I would have better success with solidifying projects that reflected true to who I was as an actor.

 

Shortly after, I receive a call from my manager telling me he got me a page in a men’s magazine. He was aware of my moral and religious boundaries, he knew I wasn’t going to be excited about the opportunity but stressed the necessity of doing a spread like this in a publication like Maxim or FHM.

 

He told me “Melissa, this is how executives discover new talent. The executives and studio heads read these men’s magazines while traveling and bring in the actresses they like the most.”

 

Full of scantily clad young, upcoming actresses just hoping for an audition with some of the biggest names in hollywood.

 

My manager promised me the photoshoot would be tasteful and we’d be in complete control of what was printed. I hesitantly agreed and the shoot was scheduled. Upon arrival I gazed upon a rack chock full of thong underwear, lace sheer bras, garter belts and high heels.

Wardrobe gave me a few “options” to try on and to come out to get approval.

 

I couldn’t do it. I was expecting a corset or something the Pussycat dolls would wear not a thong bikini and a bra. I was 18. I panicked. I freaked. I froze.

I stared at myself alone in the bathroom looking at my reflection while holding the barely there fabric. I pulled my manager in and told him I couldn’t do it. I know I made his job hard because as I was told “most actresses would give their left arm to pose in something like this for a magazine like this.” I thought something was wrong with me because I didn’t feel the same way.

 

A middle ground was eventually reached. They gave me boy short options paired with camisoles and lacey pushup bras. My page in the magazine never made it to print due to not being sexy enough. Needless to say I was never called in by the studio heads.

 

I thought by making a stand, it would demand better projects. I grew up dreaming of being on a sitcom like FRIENDS, FRASIER, SEINFELD, I LOVE LUCY….and then it happened.

 

I was offered the lead in a “comedy” called Bald in 2008. The only joke that I could find in the script was the ‘genre’ it was given. It was a horribly written, male driven comedy about men making money off women doing soft core **** in their basement.

 

They lost me at crotch shot as a relevant plot keyword. At the regret of my agency, I turned down the MPAA rated comedy. This was the beginning of what would become a long Hiatus for me.

 

I stopped auditioning all together and moved to San Diego. I decided that I would rather disappear and come back with a fresh start and a fresh perspective then to continue where I was. I got married, started a family and started to focus on volunteer work with animal rescues and the ASPCA.

 

In 2011, my husband and I decided it was time to move back to LA. I was older, not by much but hoped I was old enough to not be seen as a sex toy for projects or people.  I wanted to be seen for my craft and not my ****.

 

Now later in my 20’s, married and a mom, I have discovered the other side of sexual harassment. Discrimination. I couldn’t even get an agent. It didn’t matter if I had previous work experience or sold 2 million albums or was referred by a reputable source.

 

I even had an major talent agency tell me,

If it hasn’t happened for you yet, it never will.

I look forward to proving them wrong.

It was clearly being communicated to me that I ****ed up. I should have never said no all those years. If I have posed for the men’s magazine in a thong bikini and a lace bra or if I slept with power men that I was encouraged to do, I wouldn’t be a social pariah.

I pressed on further and did what everyone told me I further couldn’t do. Make people laugh.

 

So what did I do? I enrolled in acting classes focusing on comedy. I excelled in my class and was invited into the Master Class for the working professionals. Except, I was the only professional not working.

Then I did something I had dreamed of doing since I was 9 years old. I auditioned for The Groundling School in LA. I doubted myself and worried I wouldn’t pass the audition. and then, I did.

I worried I wouldn’t pass Basic.

And I did.

I worried I wouldn’t pass Intermediate.

And I did.

I worried I wouldn’t get invited passed Advanced.

And I did.

 

And now in level 4 of 5 of the program. Why am I pointing this out? I want to inspire others that despite the opposition of our industry or your life circumstances, despite what others say about you, you can go after whatever you want and more.
 

Have I achieved everything I dream of doing? No, but my story isn’t over and neither is yours.
 

Never give up. It’s never too late. Never let the harassment, discrimination or falsified reputation stop you from bring true to who you are and what you dream of doing. The Harvey Weinstein’s of the world may never go away or the culture in which they create in the workplace however we can speak up.

Don’t be silent. Be Brave. Be Bold. Be You.

xoxo

-Mel

Mel’s message came hours after a former member of the Pussycat Dolls shocked the world by claiming that the group’s members were forced /coerced into sleeping with powerful men for money.

Click here to read her story.

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  1. Achooo! October 16, 2017

    Great post from Melissa. We women go through hell in the entertainment industry and the harassment is bad in corporate America too. There are rich powerful Harvey Weinstein types everywhere that prey on beautiful women and I can write a book on my experiences. I’m glad people are speaking out and not afraid of being blacklisted.

  2. The Wig Snatcher October 16, 2017

    Very inspiring!

  3. Jasmine October 16, 2017

    Im not reading that long narrative but From what I read she is not saying anything new. Unless you have a unique voice like Whitney or can dance like Janet, you have to be f u c k a b l e in order for a label or investor to back your music career financially. A lot of basic chicks act like they are entitled to stardom instead of realizing what a basic chick must do to be a star with no talent.

    • Julian October 16, 2017

      Are you being serious right now? Sexual exploitation, harrassment and the objectification of women should never be a requirement for whatever job. Point blank period.
      It’s just a sad symptom of how structurally f’d up our society is in regards to women’s rights that a lot of women (like you apparently) think that being s*xy is their only option if they want to get attention/money/jobs/love/anything really.

    • More Than A Woman October 16, 2017

      And who told you that Whitney didn’t go through that? You clearly know nothing about Hollywood’s so called Golden age if you think “basic girls” are the only ones who are targeted.

      • Jasmine October 16, 2017

        @More Than A Woman You can read my comment to Julian and see that I know a lot about the industry. Nothing in life is free. If entertainers do not want to go through that then the entertainer needs to have their own money to financially support their entertainment dreams. For example, Ludacris got a job at a radio station and sold music from the trunk of his car to have his own money before he ever got a record deal. Monique, the comedian, lived out of her car while she took any comedy standup gig she could find before she made it big. Tyler Perry was homeless while putting together local stage plays in Louisiana and Atlanta before he made it big. People are too lazy these days and think they are ENTITLED to be an entertainer but are not willing to put in the hard work it takes to be able to financially support their entertainer dreams. They want financial support from investors without offering the investor anything in return for their money. That is one of the reasons the music industry is so bad…it is full of talentless basic chicks spreading their legs to the highest investor in exchange for the investor backing up their talentless careers. Artists like Celine Dione, Lauryn Hill (pre-mental breakdown), Jazmine Sullivan, etc seem to be a dying breed.

    • Jasmine October 16, 2017

      @Julian I do know a lot about the industry and how it works. Nothing in life is free. These women want to earn money from being an “entertainer” but in order to be an entertainer you need financial backing from investors. It is a high RISK game for any investor to put money into someone’s entertainment career when there is no guarantee the investment money will ever see any returns in profit. Thus, the entertainer must possess some unique talent that the investor thinks will return profit or the entertainer must motivate the investor to financially support their career through other means. You compare being an entertainer to a regular job but on a job an employer sees immediate return on investment from your work while being an entertainer means there is no immediate return on investment for the investor so the risks are a lot higher. This is not limited to female entertainers either. Male entertainers go through the same things.

      • Melanie October 16, 2017

        “Nothing in life is free…” Unfortunately your comments on this issue don’t surprise me. You often are misguided in your attempts to present “factual” statements about topics you have no clue about. What’s more, you often excuse misogyny and the behaviors of straight males in their sexual and non-sexual pursuits for power or gain. Sadly, your comments say more about you and your deficits than they do about anything else.

        Honey, it’s about time you do some soul searching and figure out why you think a woman’s body can be collateral for a dollar…because it’s clear you’re damaged goods.

      • Jasmine October 16, 2017

        @Melanie I am a realist. I don’t live in the fantasy world you live in. You can go on thinking negatively about my realistic opinions but at the end of the day nothing in the industry is changing. You are the one that is clueless thinking this is limited to only women and not men. You are also clueless in thinking investors are going to invest money into a basic chick’s career without anything in return. My goods are certainly not damaged b|tch! Troll b|tches like you are jealous of me because you have no walls and you are facially challenged while realistic confident women like me have so many men checking for me I need men repellent.

    • Electrikblue October 16, 2017

      Don’t mind Jasmine she really is sad. She uses a library computer to troll then goes to 7/11 to get a minut card for her minute cellphone. He can’t help but to believe what she says is right and fact. She would probably do the same thing if given the opportunity to be in the industry.

      • Jasmine October 16, 2017

        @ElectricTrash Stop trolling all my comments. Obviously your homeless a z z uses a free computer and “minute cell phones” but I would never use a burner cell phone so miss me with your hoodrat mentality. I am qualified to state my opinion because Ive been working in the entertainment industry over 10 years. You can keep trolling my comments hoping your nasty comments will evoke a nasty response from me but always remember that you are MY fan! Loathing me is cool. I have plenty of grown women and men picking me as their role model.

  4. Faf October 16, 2017

    This is why I stop talking Bout ppl careers compared to others bc u don’t know what they had to do to get where they are so I don’t get why rappers (especially female) wanna diss each other and devote their careers to taking one down when they know this

    • TAMMAH October 16, 2017

      That Part!!!

  5. D October 16, 2017

    She played Christina Milian / Paris Morgan’s friend in ‘Love Don’t Cost a Thing’!

    “She’s like a Frappuccino with hips.” “With miss hot fudge and miss whipped cream!” 😂

  6. eric October 16, 2017

    I don’t read long narratives too often, but this was so well written that I read every word. I understand and feel what she’s saying and I’m glad she shared.

    • TAMMAH October 16, 2017

      Same Here 😂😂😂 It Was well Written, I Read The Whole Thing! Melissa Can Write

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