Who is Alice Ripley? Broadway star accused of manipulating fans with 'cult-like' behavior
The Tony Award-winning actress Alice Ripley found herself embroiled in a major scandal on August 19, after four people accused her of alleged manipulation, abuse and running a cult-like fan base. The 'Next To Normal' actress has faced a torrent of allegations over the past few days after a viral TikTok accused her of "grooming". Ripley has denied the accusations but appears to have gone off social media and canceled her shows since the story broke.
The accusations against Ripley are quite serious and come amidst a slew of accusations against major celebrities in recent months. On July 15, federal prosecutors indicted producer Dillon Jordan on charges of running a prostitution ring. 'For All Mankind' actor Joel Kinnaman is facing an investigation in Sweden after model Gabriella Magnusson accused him of raping her. In May 2021, Marilyn Manson's ex-assistant sued him for sexual assault.
So far, Ripley has not been sued nor has an investigation been opened into her behavior. However, it could be possible if more accusers step forward. The story came to light after an exclusive by The Daily Beast, who managed to interview a couple of Ripley's accusers, learning in detail about her behavior.
Who is Alice Ripley?
An actress, musician, and mixed martial artist, Ripley has worn a lot of hats over the years. After graduating from high school near Dayton, Ohio, Ripley attended DePauw University before transferring to Kent State University. She graduated in 1985 with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre. She spent the next few years as part of San Diego's community theatre scene, before making her Broadway debut in 1993 with 'The Who's Tommy'.
Ripley then quickly established herself with roles in productions of 'Les Misérables', 'King David', 'Side Show', and Dream Girls'. Her big moment came in 1998 when she won a shared Tony Award nomination for 'Side Show'. From March 27, 2009, to July 18, 2010, Ripley starred in the Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Next To Normal', which earned her the 2009 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Alongside her Broadway work, Ripley has appeared in off-Broadway productions, several films, and TV shows. She has also released a large number of singles, and a few albums with her band Ripley, and going solo. Of all her work though, Ripley remains best known for 'Next To Normal', the first mainstream production to address mental health. That success appears to have led to the accusations against Ripley, with The Daily Beast reporting "instead of a healthy relationship between star and fan, multiple sources have told The Daily Beast what occurred messed with both their emotions and mental state, and in the end, left them feeling traumatized."
Accusations against Ripley
The accusations against the actress stem from a 25-year-old TikToker, Brie Lynn. Lynn first accused Ripley of allegedly "grooming" her in the video, before providing further details to The Beast. "There were instances where I would bring up a sexual situation that might have involved a specific sexual act, and she was not shutting down those conversations, she was participating in them," Lynn said. At the time, Lynn was around 14. "She should have stopped talking to me immediately, and she did not. She pursued a friendship with me despite the fact that we had these conversations," she added.
Lynn's video led to another actress, named only Liz, coming out as well. "I felt like I was in a cult, the cult of Alice Ripley," she told The Beast. "She finds people who are desperate for love, and she figures out how to fill that hole and then manipulates them with it," Liz said. Another woman, called Meridith also came forward and said, "I’ve spent the last 10 years thinking I’m the only one who’s been in therapy because of Alice Ripley. Then in the last 48 hours, I realize there are also other individuals who are my demographic who have also felt literally traumatized by this relationship."
Ripley was reportedly followed around by a huge number of young fans, who she added on social media. Another accuser, Leo, said Ripley would allegedly engage in "very intimate" conversations, before cutting off fans as they became close. "It definitely has messed with me. I used to cry about how she quit talking to me and how I thought I was special to her." Leo told The Beast. Liz explained, "What Alice does, whether she is consciously doing it or subconsciously doing it, is she knows how to sense where you are vulnerable and where you are desperate for love and attention, and she just goes for it."
She reportedly rewarded fans' devotion with special access to her backstage, allegedly creating "a competition-like atmosphere among fans." Liz said, "I definitely felt very emotionally manipulated during that time. Who knows if she was actively trying to do these things or not, I cannot speak to Alice’s psyche. But she was the fully-fledged adult in the situation. These relationships with teenage girls were not appropriate, adults were rarely present."
For her part, Ripley has strongly denied the allegations. "Recently, a claim has been made online against me. There’s absolutely no validity to any of it. I appreciate everyone’s continued support," she said on August 16. Shortly before that, she deleted her Facebook pages and set her Instagram to private. She also canceled her upcoming shows at 54 Below in New York City. Beyond the short statement, Ripley has not addressed the matter further, and from The Beast's report, it is unclear if any of the four have filed a complaint with the police.