There are things that break the Internet, and there are things that make the world implode on itself. Early Sunday night a heart-stopping NY Mag cover depicting 35 women accusing Bill Cosby of rape made a shocking debut. The NY Mag website was down due to a hack on Monday morning, but the story is available in hard copy and via select audio testimonies on the magazine's Instagram. Adding that very visual presence to these women's stories is absolutely courageous, but there is one element I feel inclined to delve into as well: These women have their own backgrounds aside from being accusers and it's important that we take the time to learn who they are as people, too.
Of course, this is not to say that they shouldn't be recognized as accusers: By participating in this shoot, they are bringing that part of their histories front and center. But they are also real people, with hopes and dreams and lives outside of this news story. The fact that they're looking for retribution, for closure, for justice and a stop to this maddening cycle of accusations against Cosby being forgotten and then brought up only to be forgotten again (as the NY Mag feature explains in great detail) is so powerful, but these accusations are merely a facet in the overall tapestry of these women's lives and learning a little bit more about who these women really are will help us humanize them as much as possible and help make sure their claims are not forgotten ever again.
Here's a closer look at 12 of these courageous women and their lives beyond the scandal:
Valentino was a Playboy Playmate, and Playboy's Playmate of the month in the September 1963 issue. According to that original interview, she has many creative talents and a fondness for the arts, including a love a singing, dancing, and painting ("mostly still lifes, and pen-and-inks," she said at the time).
Once a Cosby Show guest star, the actress's credentials include a spot on Seinfeld and extensive theater roles in New York and Los Angeles alike. She also is a blogger at the Huffington Post, and her work explores "post-colonial paradigm of suffering and resilience."
Allison is a former model and one of the first black models to be considered for the cover of Mademoiselle Magazine. She's also an accomplished poet, having published a collection of her work in 2009 with the book Stealing Peace .
Tarshis has an extensive career in PR and journalism spanning over 30 years, but my most favorite line on her resume? She was once a publicist for Bob Marley.
Johnson is another former model who's appeared on over 500 magazine covers, and was the first black model to appear on the cover of Vogue . She's also been named on of the 100 most influential people in fashion.
Ferrigno was an actress who had appeared primarily in The Death of the Incredible Hulk alongside husband Lou Ferrigno, before later becoming a personal trailer.
The wife to producer Alan Ladd Jr, Ladd was a veteran of the film industry and a former entertainment executive.
Another actress and former showgirl, McKee lived a thrilling life that had her as the "Mistress of Ceremonies" in Sammy Davis Jr.'s night club show.
Mays is a writer across many platforms, having written articles and columns for many publications such as People Magazine, Sports Illustrated and USA Today. She's also written a children's book called Pirate Night Before Christmas .
You probably already know about this OG super model because of her vibrant TV personality on mid-2000s reality shows such as The Surreal Life and of course, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency .
Emmons was the manager of a comedy club. Which is a pretty badass job, if you ask me.
So next time you think of any of these women, think of their courage, but also remember that outside of this scandal, they are some incredible ladies.
In response to the allegations of rape and sexual assault, Cosby’s lawyers released this statement in 2014:
Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.
When a 2015 report from the Associate Press unveiled documents from a 2005 deposition in which Cosby admitted to obtaining quaaludes to use to have sex with women, his lawyers released another statement:
The only reason Mr. Cosby settled was because it would have been embarrassing in those days to put all those women on the stand and his family had no clue. That would have been very hurtful.