About eight months after he was pronounced guilty on charges of sex trafficking and racketeering, R. Kelly has finally found out his fate. The disgraced R’n’B singer is set to spend at least a significant chunk of the rest of his life behind bars, after he was officially sentenced to 30 years in prison.
R. Kelly’s lawyers have already insisted that he will appeal the decision, saying that he was ‘devastated’ by the length of the sentence.
At the height of his career, R. Kelly was said to be worth around $100 million, a sum which has now all but dissipated into negative values.
There doesn’t seem to be much hope that the musician will resurrect his career – or rebuild his previously mammoth net worth, considering that he is due to face even more charges in Chicago and Minnesota.
The extent of R. Kelly’s reported crimes was exposed in a two-season documentary series titled Surviving R. Kelly, which aired on Lifetime in 2019 and 2020.
John Legend was one of a few celebrities who agreed to feature in the documentary, which in the eyes of the producers, made him a hero.
Which Celebrities Refused To Feature In ‘Surviving R. Kelly’?
Lifetime greenlighted the Surviving R. Kelly project in May 2018. Filmmaker Dream Hampton (I Am Ali, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty) was brought on board as one of the producers. Hampton had also previously collaborated with rapper Jay Z in the writing of his 2010 memoir, Decoded.
According to IMDb, Surviving R. Kelly is ‘a six-part series about the controversial R&B star R. Kelly, which features several women making allegations of abuse by him.’
Hampton, as well as fellow executive producer Tamara Simmons (Growing Up Hip Hop) were tasked with reaching out to various interviewees and signing them up to the project.
Most of the survivors and their families were very collaborating in that regard, but the producers encountered more difficulty when trying to convince celebrities who had previously worked with R. Kelly to come on board.
Hampton revealed this when she did an interview with NPR around the time of the release of the documentary.
“We asked Lady Gaga. We asked Erykah Badu. We asked Celine Dion. We asked Jay-Z. We asked Dave Chappelle… People who have been critical of him,” said Hampton.
Dream Hampton Called John Legend A Hero For Taking Part In Surviving R. Kelly
Nearly every celebrity that Dream Hampton and her team approached to talk about their experiences with R. Kelly refused. In her eyes, this made John Legend’s willingness to participate very special.
“That makes John Legend even more of a hero for me,” she said in the conversation with NPR, as she also expressed her opinion on why so many of these stars were reluctant to be interviewed.
“I think [they refused because] they’d have to deal with their own complicity,” Hampton added. On the other hand, she was full of praise for the survivors, and the bravery they portrayed in speaking up against the powerful musician.
“They’re everything, these women. We call them survivors. They’re so brave,” the filmmaker continued. “Their stories are important, and they have every right to share them.”
She also revealed that there was absolutely no monetary gain whatsoever for the interviewees.
“There are no big paychecks,” said Hampton. “We can’t pay them to be in a documentary. There are no endorsement deals.”
Was R. Kelly Offered The Chance To Feature In ‘Surviving R. Kelly’?
On his part, John Legend revealed that his close relationship with Dream Hampton made the decision to appear in Surviving R. Kelly very simple. “I respect her work a lot, and she asked me if I wanted to do it, and so I said yes,” he said during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.
He also followed up his cameo on the documentary series with a tweet, explaining why he was so convinced about being on the show.
‘To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all,’ Legend wrote. ‘I believe these women and don’t give a fuck about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision.’
Hampton revealed that R. Kelly and his team had been given a lot of the quotes from the documentary, and offered a chance to respond. According to her, they turned that opportunity down.
Following his guilty verdict last year, the musician hired a new lawyer to oversee his appeal process. This lawyer was the same one who helped shamed comedian Bill Cosby secure his release from prison, but there has been no such luck for R. Kelly.
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