Allegations of abuse and control
Allegations of intimidation
Allegations of withholding medical care
Discussions of physical ailments
Rebecca Ferguson, a 36 year old British singer-songwriter, has recently taken to Twitter and TikTok to discuss her experiences in the music industry. She first broke into the industry after coming in second place in The X Factor in 2010 and was catapulted into a career field that she alleges would go on to abuse her for years, comparing her experience to trafficking. In her posts to social media, she outlines various experiences she endured throughout her time recording and performing. In one video she posted to TikTok, she clarifies why she is coming forward with this information now, stating “I feel like it’s a good time to tell my story because the music industry needs to change and for it to change it needs to look at itself. And youse [sic] need to hear what’s happening to a lot of artists”. This isn’t the first time she’s discussed what she went through, she is quite vocal about her experiences on Twitter, but it is the first time she’s posted videos talking through the situations. In the videos, you will see a visibly upset Rebecca discussing her experiences and the lasting effect it has had on her even years later.
On her Twitter she has put forth a call to action, asking viewers of singing competition shows to hold those in charge accountable and request that the contracts all contestants have to sign be posted on a public platform for the public to see. This would not only encourage transparency within the lucrative industry of reality singing competitions, but also allow viewers and voters to know what exactly they are supporting.
On TikTok, Rebecca started off stating “I didn’t have any freedom to be me. Absolutely everything to do with my life was micromanaged.” She went on to detail how she was not allowed to be in certain relationships, and if the people she worked for caught wind of any relationship they didn’t approve of she would have to suffer through being shouted at and told off. On other occasions she states she was literally tucked into bed by handlers and fed pills to sleep, which she clarified she didn’t know what she was being given and still doesn’t.
In another video she recounts a time that, due to a grueling and demanding work schedule, she became physically ill. She says that there were multiple instances of her collapsing from extreme fatigue due to being overworked yet she received no medical treatment and an ambulance wasn’t called to check on her. At one point, she fainted in an elevator and hit her head on the way to an interview and was forced to still go on with it but ultimately the interview was cut short and deleted because her speech was too distorted to publish. That wasn’t all though, as the singer-songwriter goes on to say “But it didn’t stop the people who were around me from propping me up in bed, after me collapsing, and making me do work from bed on the telephone.” On another occasion, she alleges she collapsed three times which caused the airlines to declare her unfit to fly. Her team’s response was to tell her “Rebecca you need to fake looking well otherwise you’re not going to go home.” Rebecca clarifies that she attempted to regain control of her life and get her story out but was unable to. She tried to give a televised interview exposing her treatment without naming names but was told her interview couldn’t be used because it was “too obvious who it’s about”. In place of her story, the show interviewed the person the allegations were made against, though Rebecca didn’t give any details into what was discussed in the interview that aired.
In another TikTok, she explains why it is so hard to expose those who have committed these abuses. She describes how when a scandalous story is about to break, an inquiry is sent to the celebrity’s PR representatives to give the team a chance to respond. The accused’s team will often respond by telling the publication to not run the story, and then threaten to withhold interviews from various celebrities they manage if the story is published anyway. This puts the journalist in a tight spot of deciding to run the story or damaging potential networking connections in the future. Rebecca said “…often the other side has got so much power in the industry, so much money, and so much reach when it comes to celebrities that the story gets suppressed and it gets buried.” She also claimed that more often than not, the team of the person accused will send a legal letter to the publication to threaten them. Sometimes, the journalist will hold the power and offer to not publish the information they have in exchange for a bigger exclusive. If all else fails, the people in power will go over the journalist’s head to the owner of the publication, who they often know, and tell them that a journalist is bothering them and the situation needs to be handled. Rebecca then stated that if a story does manage to make it’s way through and get published, it is usually “a watered-down version that has been allowed to go to print and often when it goes to print, it’s done in such a way to make the victim look stupid.”
Feeling she had nowhere to turn, she eventually received the help of Elton John and his team, saying “They were disgusted by how I was being treated. They were utterly disgusted.” However, despite being a big name in the industry, Elton and his team were met with threats if they attempted to assist her in leaving. So even backed by those who one would assume have power, they too were left powerless and his hands were tied to do anything beyond providing emotional support. She stressed through all of the videos that were posted “This is what we are up against.”
She did end off her multiple videos that evening on a lighter note. Rebecca reassured fans and viewers that she is happier now and was eventually able to break free at the cost of her career. She has retired from the industry and said “The one good thing I will say … is that I’m really happy now, and that I’ve found peace … life’s really good for me now,” going on to say that she was pushed into a corner that left her with no choice but to rise up and overcome. Despite the fact that Rebecca is now in a better place mentally, physically, and emotionally, the abuse in this largely unregulated industry carries on for others. The importance of listening to survivors such as Rebecca is to understand what artists are still being subjected to, and hopefully bring enough awareness to garner change.
You can follow along with Rebecca’s ongoing story on her social media accounts linked below as she continues to talk about her experiences and what safety measures can be put in place to protect those who dedicate their lives to providing entertainment and content to us: