Sil Lai Abrams: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

sil lai abrams

Che Williams/Simon & Schuster Sil Lai Abrams.

Sil Lai Abrams is a writer, domestic violence awareness activist and inspirational speaker who says NBC News tried to kill stories about her rape accusations against business mogul Russell Simmons and former “Extra” host A.J. Calloway. Abrams spoke out in The Daily Beast after the publication of Ronan Farrow‘s book detailing his accusations against NBC about its efforts to stop his Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on Harvey Weinstein.

Abrams, 49, told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018 that Simmons raped her in 1994 when she was 24. More than a dozen women have accused Simmons of sexual assault. He has denied Abrams’ accusation and all of the accusations against him. Abrams said Calloway sexually assaulted her in 2006. Abrams told The Hollywood Reporter she reported it to police, but the case was dismissed for procedural reasons. Calloway has also denied raping Abrams. He was fired by “Extra” in August 2019.

In her first-person article for The Daily Beast, Abrams said that she had told her story to MSNBC’s Joy Reid, but NBC did not air it because of threats from Simmons’ attorney.

“Over the next several months, NBC put me through an elaborate and bizarre vetting process. I provided legal documentation, hospital bills, and more than a dozen corroborating witnesses. Still, they stonewalled. I asked Joy repeatedly if NBC was going to do to her what it did to Ronan, and she said that she didn’t think so. We both agreed that it would reflect very poorly if word got out that the network had suppressed yet another story of alleged sexual assault,” Abrams wrote. “To expedite the increasingly expansive vetting process, Joy’s piece was assigned to an investigative unit that was supposed to help her clear the hurdles that NBC kept throwing in front of her about my story.”

Abrams wrote that NBC eventually killed Reid’s story and Reid told Abrams to find another reporter to publish it, which The Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters did. NBC has not commented about Abrams’ story.

“I am one of the many survivors that NBC silenced, and bore witness to how it treated one of their top talents for trying to break a story on sexual predators. Given what has been exposed thus far by Farrow and others, it’s clear that NBC thinks it can spin their way out of this—again,” Abrams wrote. “What it fails to recognize is that this is a much bigger issue than their cover-ups, payoffs, and excuses. The media is supposed to be a watchdog for abuses of power. Reporting on the behavior of alleged serial predators is more than news. It’s an act of social good.”

Here’s what you need to know about Sil Lai Abrams:


1. Abrams Was Born in Hawaii as the Daughter of a Chinese Woman, & Wrote a Book About Learning When She Was 14 That Her Father Was Actually Black

sil lai abrams

Sil Lai Abrams.

Sil Lai was born and raised in Hawaii. In her book, “Black Lotus,” Abrams wrote about how she was raised until 14 thinking her father was white. But he learned then that her mother, who is of Chinese descent, had not told her that her actual father was an African-American airline pilot. Her book, “Black Lotus,” tells that story.

“Out of her family, Sil Lai was the only one with a tousle of wild curls and brown skin. When she asked about her darker complexion, she was given vague answers. At fourteen, the man she knew her entire life as her birth-father divulged that Abrams was not his biological child, but instead the daughter of a man of African descent who didn’t know she existed,” her publisher says. “This shocking news sparked a quest for healing that would take her down the painful road to reclaim her identity despite the overt racism in her community and her own internalized racism and self-hatred. Abrams struggled with depression, abuse and an addiction that nearly destroyed her. But eventually she would leave behind the shame over her birthright and move toward a celebration of her blackness.”


2. She Was a Model in Her Teens & Early Twenties Before Working in Event Planning & Marketing

sil lai abrams

Sil Lai Abrams.

In her teens and early 20s, Abrams was a runway model for Page Parkes Models in Florida and Texas, and for Riccardo Gay in Milan, Italy, according to her book.

Abrams then was an executive assistant for PR Newswire from 1995 to 1997 and director of special events for the Union Square Ballroom, according to her Linkedin profile. In 2003 she founded Movement Marketing Solutions, which she says, “Conceptualized, developed and implemented mid-sized event programs for a diverse group of clients, including but not limited to: MTV Networks, Youth at Risk, New York Methodist Hospital, Moet and Chandon, Virgin Records.”

She was also a single mother of a young son in her early 20s, she told The Grio.

“I was working in an industry that is not geared towards parenting at all. There’s no daycare for models,” she said.


3. Abrams Has Spoken Out About Being a Survivor of Sexual Assualt & Domestic Violence


Sil Lai and Surviving Domestic Violence2010-01-29T21:57:32.000Z

Abrams has spoken out for many years about her experiences as a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence. She is a member of the board of directors for Safe Horizon, a which provides support to victims of abuse in New York City, and a member of the board of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

She told The Grio that Safe Horizon helped her leave her abuser. “When I stopped focusing on him and put the focus on me, that’s when I began to change,” she said in the 2011 interview.

Abrams said of herself, “I would tell that 22-year old if you see hints of controlling behavior, if he uses any threats or behavior, if he does anything along those lines, run for the hills. Don’t look back. Don’t go into counseling. If you’re going to get counseling, get counseling for yourself. Learn how to choose appropriate partners. But don’t you think you can ever change another human being. It’s impossible. We have a hard enough time trying to change ourselves, let alone trying to change another person.”

She added, “And I would tell her what I tell women now in my workshops across the country: Honey, a man is not an acceptable life plan.”


4. She Found a Nonprofit, Truth in Reality, in 2012 to ‘Change the Imbalanced Media Depictions of Women of Color’

In 2012, Abrams founded a nonprofit and social advocacy organization called Truth in Reality. Abrams wrote about the organization that it is pioneering a “movement to change the imbalanced media depictions of women of color. Through education, research, public awareness campaigns, social media engagement, strategic partnerships, and public commentary we aim to change society’s acceptance of gender-based violence and ultimately reduce its incidence in the Black community.”

She is also the founder and CEO of Sepia LLC, which she says is, “a media and publishing company that helps women gain greater self-awareness, build healthier relationships, and achieve personal goals through the use of a proprietary self-help methodology called the Self-Empowerment Principles In Action (SEPIA) Process. Products include books, speaking engagements, seminars, curriculum, merchandise, and broadcast and digital media.”

Abrams is also a writer and motivational speaker. She has been a contribitor to The Huffington Post and TheGrio.com, along with a relationship expert for Ebony Magazine and Men’s Fitness.


5. Abrams Is a McBride Scholar at Bryn Mawr Studying Sociology & Political Science

Abrams is currently a McBride Scholar at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, according to her Linkedin profile. She is studying sociology and political science.

According to Bryn Mawr College, “The Katharine E. McBride Scholars are women 24 and older who are in the process of beginning or completing their college education. McBride Scholars participate in the same classes and programs as students of traditional college age.”

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