When strangers stop Amanda Knox on the street, the conversation can go two ways. Some people welcome her back to her home in Seattle. Others treat her like a morbid curiosity.
In 2007, Knox faced murder charges in Italy for the slaying of her roommate. The case was an international tabloid sensation—in part because Knox was a striking woman on a college year abroad. She was convicted twice, and spent four years in an Italian prison, but was ultimately acquitted by a panel of judges who criticized both the investigators' and prosecutor's tactics.
Now 31, Knox lives in Seattle, dedicating her time to working with other wrongfully convicted people. She executive produces and hosts a Vice web series called The Scarlet Letter Reports in which women talk about having their sexuality weaponized against them.
On May 9, she's speaking at a fundraiser in Portland to raise money for the Oregon Justice Resource Center's Innocence Project, which works on exoneration cases for wrongfully convicted people in state prison.
WW talked with Knox about what it's like to be wrongfully accused, convicted, and tried in the public eye before being freed.
WW: What was it like in prison?
Amanda Knox: I lived those four years in absolute sadness. It was just devastating sadness every day.
What's life like for you now? Do you get to be part of the world?
On the one hand, I am so utterly grateful that every day I get to wake up cuddled on the one side by my partner and on the other side by my cat. There are a lot of little things I thought I had lost forever. I work and I make food and I have my relationships and I do my thing.
And on the other hand, I'm still Amanda Knox, which comes with, as it turns out, a whole lot of baggage. I get recognized all the time. Strangers approach me all the time. Usually, they're very nice and they say things like, "Welcome home."
What do the other people say?
My existence in the world tends to arouse a lot of people's feelings. You know, Cosmopolitan recently put out an article where they were like, "Things about true crime that creep us out." And one of them was like, "Isn't it really weird we like Amanda Knox's cat photos, but she was accused of murder so it feels weird to like her photos." Yeah, well, I'm a person, so you don't have to follow me if you don't want to.
It's weird to know that in the world where I'm also a person, I'm a morbid curiosity for a lot of people. I get really, really nasty messages online to this day, every day. Every day, I start my day deleting messages and blocking people. It's part of my everyday existence. It's a new normal.
How do you protect yourself from being constantly harassed?
Here's the weird silver lining to being accused of being a monster and of doing something that not only I didn't do but I would never ever do: People hate you, but not because it's you. People hate me, but they hate me for reasons that have nothing to do with me. They hate the idea of a person that doesn't exist. I don't sit there and think, "Oh, I deserve this somehow."
I would say the same thing to anyone experiencing bullying. That's not on you. The best thing you can do is be untouched by it.
What's the worst part of becoming a true-crime celebrity for a crime you didn't commit?
There's no place in the world where I can go where I haven't already been judged. I understand any time I walk into a room, "Foxy Knoxy" is walking in front of me. "Foxy Knoxy" is preceding me in the room, and some people really want to see her and some people want to see through her.
What do you say to people who still aren't convinced you're innocent?
I try to speak to people's guts. When I talk, I really open myself up. I show that I am human. If people don't respond to that? I've given up the idea that I'm going to somehow convince everyone. That's not my goal. I just kind of prove them wrong by not being a monster and just being myself.
SEE IT: Amanda Knox speaks at This Is Innocence, a fundraiser for Oregon Justice Resource Center's Innocence Project, at Urban Studio, 935 NW Davis St., ojrc.info/this-is-innocence, on Thursday, May 9. 6 pm. $125.