The 24-year-old actress who starred in a hidden-camera video that purportedly showed men in Hollywood trying to take advantage of her as she pretended to be drunk says she was hired for a comedic prank that "snowballed" into something more sinister.
"I was hired as an actress to play a drunk girl in what was described to me as a light-hearted prank show,” Jennifo Box explained in a videotaped statement posted to YouTube. "Had I known the damaging outcome of this video, I never would have participated."
“I was just the random actress they hired that day," Box wrote on Facebook. "I had never met them before, and I didn’t even know exactly what we were shooting until I got there, but was told it was a comedic prank show, not this. They hired me as an actress to go pretend to be drunk so I said okay and stumbled off. I had NO idea it would snowball into this."
In the four-minute video — "Drunk Girl in Public (Social Experiment)" — is approached by a series of predatory men as she stumbles around Hollywood Boulevard in high heels and sips from a bottle covered by a brown paper bag.
"So you like to party?" one of the men asks. "If you want to hang out, we can go back to my spot."
According to the Smoking Gun, the men in the film say they were approached by Stephen Zhang, the video's 20-year-old creator, to be part of a "comedic" student film.
After the video was posted, its seemingly creepy male stars complained they had been duped. One informed friends on Facebook that he thought he was doing "a favor for some camera crew," TSG reports. “Guess this is what I get for being agreeable to [someone's] project.”
When another male participant complained on Facebook, Seth Leach, one of Zhang's assistants, fired off a private message.
“The important thing to consider, is that this video is going to get you well known and have a future with us and our company," Leach wrote. “We are going to be huge and you are apart of it. Just go with it dude, you are in our team now and we will take care of you."
"For the record," Box said on the YouTube video, all of her male co-stars were "nothing but perfect gentlemen."
Box may have had a change of heart, too. Three days after video was posted to YouTube, Box thanked the producers for casting her in a viral hit.
"Don't even know what to say right now," she wrote. "Thankyou Stephen Zhang, Seth Leach, Chris Olmedo, Micayla Keeley."
"Drunk Girl in Public" comes on the heels of the viral "Hollaback!" video, showing a woman being bombarded with catcalls as she walked around the streets of New York City, which has been viewed more than 35 million times on YouTube. But unlike Zhang's production, the "Hollaback!" video is real.
Watch Box's full statement: