Taraji P. Henson Clarifies What Went Down with Ryan Seacrest on the Oscars Red Carpet

Let's be real, this was bound to happen

(Photo: Getty)

There was all the predictable glitz and glamour on the Academy Awards red carpet, but as the stars began to arrive, one thing was missing: any mention of Ryan Seacrest’s sexual assault allegations.

E! News stood by its decision to keep Seacrest on the red carpet, despite the Variety story that broke less than a week prior detailing sexual misconduct allegations against the Hollywood A-lister from his former stylist. According to an E! spokesperson—via Variety—the network conducted a two-month-long internal investigation into the allegations against Seacrest and concluded that there was “insufficient evidence to support the claims.” As a result, many social media users rightly questioned E!’s business-as-usual approach with Seacrest, especially given that the Oscars red carpet was sure to be dominated by Time’s Up and #MeToo conversations. (E! also reportedly considered instituting a 30-second delay on its Live From the Red Carpet coverage in order to “to pull the plug altogether unnoticed if an on-camera encounter with Ryan goes into tricky territory,” an insider told Deadline. It’s not clear if such a delay was was implemented.)

After the first few interviews it seemed like many outspoken celebs, such as Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino, were potentially avoiding Seacrest. (The five Best Actress nominees also didn’t speak with him). There’s no doubt in my mind that the E! crew gave stars extremely strict instructions not to bring up the allegations, and when celebs did agree to speak to Seacrest, he was extremely careful to steer the conversation away from Time’s Up, #MeToo or any discussion of sexual assault allegations. Meanwhile, the massive elephant on the red carpet just hung out in the background, waiting to get addressed.

And then came Taraji P. Henson.

Henson hit the red carpet in all black and introduced Mary J. Blige’s performance during the show. (Blige is nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song for Mudbound.) In her interview with Seacrest, Henson didn’t call out the E! host directly—but she defs didn’t let him off the hook either.

“The universe has a way of protecting the best people,” she said. “Do you know what I mean?”

Taraji P Henson saying "You know what? The Universe has a way of taking care of the good people"

(Photo credit: GIPhy)

Many hoped that the comment was Henson’s way of putting a much-needed spotlight on an issue that Seacrest and his network are desperately trying to sidestep. In fact, we felt the moment was worthy of the evening’s Best Shade statuette—but after the interaction went viral, Henson told People that her responses had been “misconstrued.”

“I did it to keep his chin up. It’s an awkward position to be in. He’s been cleared but anyone can say anything,” she told People, adding that she “absolutely” supports Seacrest.

The E! host reciprocated the love with on Twitter after the red carpet wrapped.

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