Malicious Defamation — this was the case that Australian actress Rebel Wilson filed in May 2016 when she sued Bauer Media who wrongly portrayed her as a serial liar.
Famously known for her role as Fat Amy in the Pitch Perfect movie series and as Brynn in The Bridesmaids, Rebel Wilson is quite a famous actress who has starred in a lot of movies. A writer and producer as well, she has a clean record in acting until May 2016, when a magazine article published about her and her upbringing.
Wilson was not raised in the ghetto but in fact, came from a family of dog handlers and performers. They usually traveled from one place to another to sell canine products. But Wilson’s education wasn’t sacrificed. She graduated in New South Wales and took up law. She also studied at the Australian Theatre for Young People which slowly opened doors for her acting career. She even became an Australian Youth Ambassador and went to South Africa after she had been infected with malaria.
As lucky as the star that she is, she won a scholarship with the Second City Training and moved to New York. This hard work led her to become a very successful actress, producer, and writer. She was involved in various productions, both small and big. One of her production projects is Camp Sugar.
But Wilson is more famous in her comedy roles which is surprising since she shared that she was a rather shy person as a kid. She said that the constant family travels and shows molded her comedic side. She claims to be actually good at people watching. She has numerous movies but is very famous for movies like Pitch Perfect 1 and Pitch Perfect 2, How to be Single, and Isn’t It Romantic?
She managed to make a name for herself and was never involved in a controversy, until May 2016 that is, when a magazine article wreaked havoc on her spotless career. She was accused of changing her real name from Melanie Elizabeth Bownds to Rebel Melanie Elizabeth Wilson. She was also accused of hiding her true age, as well as her upbringing in Australia. The eight series of articles published by Bauer magazine portrayed her as a serial liar, leading her to be dismissed from her two films which she was supposed to headline as a lead role or play a supporting character.
Devastated about this, Wilson sued Bauer Media for malicious defamation in the Supreme Court of Victoria. Wilson ordered Bauer Media to pay $7 million AUD for damages. This is to compensate for her losing the opportunity to earn $15 million AUD by being a lead role or a cast of in Hollywood films from mid-2015 to the end of 2016.
She filed a case because according to her, the publication made a completely false accusation about her — that she allegedly lied about her true identity. Bauer Media welcomed the verdict and even answered that most actors and actresses lied about their true age and that the article about Wilson was not damaging. According to them, the eight series articles were not defamatory but Wilson insisted and claimed that it stifled her career in Hollywood. She also stated that it wasn’t about the money but she had to stand up to bullying against a huge media organization.
Rebel Wilson’s original payout of $7 million AUD was appealed by six Australian media firms to reduce its original amount, but it was dismissed by the court. But the Supreme Court of Victoria, having found out that the malicious article didn’t affect the opportunity of Wilson to earn or be cast in Hollywood films, decreased the amount of $7 million AUD. She was instead awarded by the Supreme Court of Victoria with $650,000 AUD and $3.9 million AUD for general damages for the roles she had missed out on due to the controversy. She agreed because for her it wasn’t about the money but she wanted to expose the disgraceful conduct of the media. Having said that, Wilson also stated that she will donate the money to Australian charities and film industry.
Rebel Wilson’s case became the biggest defamation case in Australia. For her, it was not about publicity or money but integrity. She learned that being a celebrity, there were always rumors about her, but those that can be damaging must not be ignored, and she had to stand up to herself. Just like her character, Fat Amy, in Pitch Perfect, Wilson is a fighter who knows exactly who she is and lives her truth and isn’t afraid to stand up to anyone else who’d dare say otherwise.