Catherine Oxenberg on Dramatizing Her Life Story for ‘Escaping the NXIVM Cult’

Variety | 9/20/2019 | Danielle Turchiano
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For seven years, Catherine Oxenberg says, individuals within the NXIVM organization groomed her daughter India and made her believe in their group as one of empowerment, despite many of their practices being abusive towards women. Now, those years have been condensed into a 90-minute dramatization of Oxenberg’s story for Lifetime, entitled “Escaping the NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Fight to Save Her Daughter.”

Starting the story in the pre-NXIVM days for the Oxenberg family, the movie explores why the mother and daughter duo both took an early workshop and why only India continued on with the group. When the two have differences of opinions on how much time and energy India is putting into this organization, the movie splits its point of view to spend time alone with both characters. Catherine’s experiences, portrayed by Andrea Roth, are pulled from Oxenberg’s own memories and writing in “Captive: A Mother’s Crusade to Save Her Daughter from a Terrifying Cult,” but India’s, played by Jasper Polish, comes from research into NXIVM.

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“I’m very careful to say that this is not her story. She has yet to tell her story,” Oxenberg tells Variety. “In my book I’m very careful not to trespass on her story at all, and so probably the hardest part for me was reading the parts of the script that tell her side of the story — because I’m very, very sensitive to my daughter having ownership over her perspective. But in order to tell this story in a visual medium, she had to be portrayed — and in moments that no mother wants to see her child, whether it’s the branding ceremony or scenes with Keith. But she did not participate in the telling of this story, and she will be telling the most accurate story from her perspective when the time is...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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