Tanya Selvaratnam is an author, an actor, a producer, and an activist. In January 2014, Prometheus Books ​ published her book, The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock, to critical acclaim. [2] On May 7, 2018 Selvaratnam, Michelle Manning Barish ​, and two unnamed women accused New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ​ of domestic violence ​. Hours after the allegations went public, Eric Schneiderman resigned from office. [41]

Personal life

Selvaratnam was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka ​ and raised in Long Beach, California ​. She attended high school at Phillips Academy Andover. She received her B.A. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and her M.A. in Regional Studies – East Asia from Harvard University. Her master’s thesis on the interplay of law and practice with regard to women’s rights in China was published in the Journal of Law and Politics . [4] Selvaratnam lives in New York City and Portland, Oregon. [5]

Career

Writing

Selvaratnam's writing has been in Vogue, [6] Bust, xoJane, [7] Huffington Post, [8] Toronto Review, Art Basel Magazine, [2] Journal of Law and Politics, [2] on Women's eNews [2] and CNN, [2] among others. In her book, The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock explores how delaying motherhood intersects with evolution, reproductive science, feminism, global economics, popular culture, female friendships, and more. Selvaratnam addresses what she calls many big lies, including that we can do things on our own timetables and that we don't need feminism anymore. [2] Publishers Weekly called the book a “provocative mix of solid information and palpable anger” and a “wakeup call.” [2] Library Journal said “This work is for the women who have been left out of the discussion until now… Many will cheer on Selvaratnam’s ultimate points.” [2] Immediately upon its release, The Big Lie generated much attention and debate. Selvaratnam has since been a guest on the Sanjay Gupta Show on CNN [2] to discuss fertility awareness and on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show on MSNBC to discuss the business of adding to families. [2] She was interviewed on the Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC, [2] the Judith Regan Show on Sirius-XM, and CBS Radio with Dan Raviv, among others.

Producing

Selvaratnam has produced the work of many artists and directors including Gabri Christa, Chiara Clemente, Catherine Gund, Mickalene Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, and Jed Weintrob. Her projects include Mickalene Thomas’s film, Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman (HBO broadcast, February 2014); Catherine Gund’s Born to Fly about daredevil choreographer Elizabeth Streb (SXSW premiere, Film Forum run, PBS broadcast); the Rockefeller Foundation-funded MADE HERE (an online and public television documentary series about NYC-based performing artists); a video/photography shoot and series of live events with Carrie Mae Weems; and Beginnings , a short film series directed by Chiara Clemente for the Sundance Channel. Beginnings , which won the Webby Award for Best Online Documentary Series, is composed of short portraits of creative leaders on how they got their start. Subjects have included actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, filmmaker Marjane Satrapi, artist Yoko Ono, chef Dan Barber, bookseller Sylvia Whitman, perfumier Frederic Malle, choreographer/dancer Carmen De Lavallade, and shoe designer Christian Louboutin. Earlier film productions include Catherine Gund’s What’s On Your Plate? (about kids and food politics), which aired on Discovery Channel’s Planet Green; Chiara Clemente’s Our City Dreams (about five decades of women artists: Nancy Spero, Marina Abramovic, Kiki Smith, Ghada Amer and Swoon), which played at Film Forum in New York and aired on the Sundance Channel; and Jed Weintrob’s On_Line (about people who spend too much time in video chat rooms), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and had a theatrical run and was broadcast on STARZ and The F Word (about freedom of speech in America), which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and aired on the Independent Film Channel. Selvaratnam has also produced live events and performances, including a concert for Artists for Tsunami Relief; a benefit for The Wooster Group; the show Bellona, Destroyer of Cities ; the Obie Award-winning show, World of Wires ; and a gala for Performance Space 122.

Acting

Selvaratnam has acted internationally in shows by The Wooster Group, The Builders Association, [4] and many others; appeared in photographs, films, and video installations by Carrie Mae Weems, Pedro Reyes, Thomas Dozol, John Malpede, Sharon Hayes, Andrea Geyer, David Michalek, Candice Breitz, and Jennifer Reeves; been a fellow at Yaddo and Blue Mountain Center; and a guest actor at New Dramatists, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Voice & Vision Theater, and the Institute on Arts and Civic Dialogue (founded by Anna Deavere Smith). Selvaratnam has performed at prestigious venues around the world, such as New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center; the UK’s Barbican Theatre and Tramway; and the Institute of Contemporary Art and American Repertory Theater in Massachusetts. [4]

Activism

Selvaratnam was the Special Projects Coordinator for the Ms. Foundation from 1995-1998. Prior to that, she was on the organizing committee of the NGO Forum on Women in China, where she was the assistant youth coordinator and produced Youth Arts & Culture events. [4]

From 1998 to 2001, Selvaratnam worked for the World Health Organization as a research associate under the direction of Soon-Young Yoon and helped organize the Kobe Conference on Women and Tobacco. [4]

In response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, Selvaratnam joined forces with Syndicate Media Group to produce a benefit titled Artists for Tsunami Relief. The show at Marquee included appearances by Lou Reed, David Byrne, Angela McCluskey, Moby, Vernon Reid, Sussan Deyhim, Colson Whitehead, and Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky. [4] She also organized book drives for Sri Lanka. [4]

Since 2011, Selvaratnam has been an advisor to The DO School, an innovative educational organization offering learning experiences that create global impact. [4] It trains and mentors social entrepreneurs from all over the world and helps them kickstart their own social ventures. She has also served on the board of The Third Wave Foundation, which is dedicated to youth activism and the feminist movement. [4]

Abuse Allegations against Eric Shneiderman

On Monday, May 7, 2018, Tanya Selvaratnam, Michelle Manning Barish, and two unnamed women accused New York Attorney General ​, Eric Schneiderman of domestic violence ​. The women publicly came forward in a The New Yorker ​ article written by Jane Mayer ​ and Ronan Farrow ​. [41]

Both Barish and Selvaratnam allege that he repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent ​. Manning Barish and Selvaratnam categorize the abuse he inflicted on them as “assault.” They did not report their allegations to the police at the time, but both say that they eventually sought medical attention ​ after having been slapped hard across the ear and face, and also choked. Both women say that he threatened to kill them if they broke up with him. [41]

A third former romantic partner of Schneiderman’s told Manning Barish and Selvaratnam that he also repeatedly subjected her to nonconsensual physical violence, but she told them that she is too frightened of him to come forward. ( The New Yorker has independently vetted the accounts that they gave of her allegations.) A fourth woman, an attorney ​who has held prominent positions in the New York legal community, says that Schneiderman made an advance toward her; when she rebuffed him, he slapped her across the face with such force that it left a mark that lingered the next day. She recalls screaming in surprise and pain, and beginning to cry, and says that she felt frightened. She has asked to remain unidentified, but shared a photograph of the injury with The New Yorker . [41]

In a statement, Schneiderman said, “In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.” [41]