How filming a rape scene changed actor Stephanie Beatriz

The "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" actor describes being sexually assaulted on-screen for the film "The Light of the Moon"

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published October 27, 2017 12:00PM (EDT)

Michael Stahl-David and Stephanie Beatriz in "The Light of the Moon" (Imagination Worldwide / The Film Collaborative)
Michael Stahl-David and Stephanie Beatriz in "The Light of the Moon" (Imagination Worldwide / The Film Collaborative)

Stephanie Beatriz is best known to audiences as the tough-talking, Nancy Meyers movies-loving Detective Rosa Diaz on Fox's long-running comedy "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." But the Texan actress also has a background in theater, a love of Shakespeare and a natural affinity for more dramatic fare.

In her new film, writer-director-producer Jessica M. Thompson's "The Light of the Moon," she stars as Bonnie, a Brooklyn architect whose entire life, including her relationship and her career, are upended in the aftermath of a violent sexual assault.

As is so often the case in real life, the film shows what happens when a rape survivor is also a person who has an existing social and sexual life. Bonnie is not Little Red Riding Hood. She's a grown woman assaulted after drinking with friends in a bar, a woman who chooses to walk instead of share a car ride home, who doesn't hear her attacker approaching because she's wearing headphones.

And that doesn't make her rape her fault or her responsibility.

During a recent conversation with me on "Salon Talks," Beatriz discussed how portraying a rape survivor affected her, and why the film's frank depiction of assault is so important.

"We live in a rape culture," she said. "It's never the victim's fault. No matter what they're wearing, no matter what they're doing, people shouldn't rape. Full stop. The circumstances around it don't matter. That is not something human beings should do to each other."

For Beatriz, she hope the film really pushes the audience to confront their own prejudices around rape that and confront their own victim blaming.

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By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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