The ‘American Idol’ host was fronting coverage of the arrivals at the 90th Academy Awards for US TV network E!, after having faced allegations of behaving sexually inappropriately.
The presenter has vehemently denied claims he harassed a former E! stylist, and continued working for the channel after an internal investigation found no evidence of misconduct.
However, ‘Empire’ actress Taraji had viewers speculating if she had referenced the allegations when she made a pointed comment as she chatted to Ryan.
After he praised double-nominee Mary J. Blige’s performance in ‘Mudbound’, Taraji turned to him and said: “You know, the universe has a way of taking care of the good people. You know what I mean?”
She then grabbed Ryan by the chin and smiled sweetly at him, as he said he “agreed”.
As Taraji moved down the line to speak to other media on the red carpet, she told an ABC reporter: “I’m great now that I’m in your company.”
People on social media had a lot to say about Taraji and Ryan’s uncomfortable exchange:
Anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct surrounding Ryan from a former E! stylist first came to light in November, with the internal investigation later concluding there was insufficient evidence to support the claims.
The stylist has since identified herself as Suzie Hardy, accusing him of harassing and assaulting her while she was with the E! network from 2007 to 2013.
Ryan released a statement last Tuesday responding to the allegations, branding the report “salacious”, and claimed he’s being exploited for financial gain. He also continued to express his general support for the Time’s Up and Me Too movements.
“I absolutely support this cause unequivocally and applaud all the brave souls who have come forward to share their stories,” the statement read.
“Sadly, last fall I became one of the accused, which I promptly revealed proactively to the network involved and to the public. And to be equally clear, those accusations were then investigated by an independent third-party over the course of a two-month process and involved dozens of interviews that included me, the accuser and countless others.”
He added: “I eagerly participated in the investigation in order to demonstrate my innocence because I know my truth, and I believe in due process.”