No one can argue that the impact of the Lifetime’s six-part docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” has been anything short of profound. Before the series aired earlier this year, the singer had managed to avoid any serious backlash from the rumors that had plagued him throughout his nearly 30-year career.
Almost immediately after the controversial docuseries broadcast, Kelly experienced a reversal of fortune.
Tamra Simmons, one of the executive producers of the now Emmy-nominated show, shared the reason why with Deadline, “Because of the series everyone’s eyes were opened,” she stated. “The public can’t turn a blind eye anymore.”
Even more importantly, the docuseries made it hard for the recording industry and law enforcement officials to continue to ignore Kelly’s long history of shenanigans. Within weeks of the doc’s debut in January, Kelly’s label, RCA, finally cut ties, and soon after Cook County prosecutors had filed a slew of new charges against him.
But that was only the beginning, Kelly has since been hit with more charges, indicted in both New York and Illinois on federal charges, ranging from sex trafficking to producing child pornography and obstruction of justice. And just this month the embattled singer was accused by prosecutors in Minnesota of engaging in sexual misconduct with a 17-year-old girl, from a case that dates back to 2001. The victim, in that case, contacted authorities through a hotline set up after the airing of the show.
“To the world, those that believe the survivors and everything, he’s a monster,” Simmons declares. “And his money can’t cover it, it can’t take care of it, it can’t make it go away.”
The docuseries, nominated for an Emmy for “Outstanding Informational Series or Special,” depicts the Grammy winner as a serial sexual predator-going back to the start of his career in the early 1990s.
Simmons and her fellow producers are extremely “honored” by the Emmy recognition, but their work is far from over. The producers intend to re-release the documentary on Netflix as well as release a four-part follow-up, called “Surviving R.Kelly: The Aftermath.”
“When it fell in the Informational [Series or Special category], I was like, ‘Wow!’ I mean it really has been an informative documentary and it shed light on dark places,” Simmons observes. “And it helped so many people. I have DMs and emails, it’s just so overwhelming that people are like, ‘Thank you so much for informing us that this was going on like we kind of knew that it was but we didn’t know the extent of it. Thank you for helping black women. Thank you for helping women overall.’”