Afton Williamson, the actress behind the popular character Talia Bishop on ABC’s crime comedy The Rookie starring Nathan Fillion has revealed that she has quit the series.
On Sunday, August 4, Williamson took to her social media to confirm reports that she would not be returning to the show for its second season and revealed that her decision came after her complaints of racial bullying and sexual harassment went unreported.
“I will not be returning for Season 2 of The Rookie. I owe it to you my amazing fans to share the Truth,” she wrote alongside a hand drawn photo of her character. “Throughout the filming of the pilot, I experienced Racial Discrimination/Racially Charged inappropriate comments from the hair department and bullying from Executive Producers,” the actress revealed.
“During the Season, it continued along with Sexual Harassment from a recurring guest star,Demetrius Grosse,and the racist commentary & bullying from the Hair Dept.Head, Sally Ciganovich escalated into Sexual Assault at our Wrap party. The Sexual Harassment though reported directly to the Showrunner/EP remained undocumented and was not reported to HR as promised,” she continued.
“Ciganovich was fired ONLY after the sexual assault and NOT for an entire year of outward racism/racially charged language and bullying behavior in and out of the Hair and Makeup trailer. HR protocol was never adhered to following the above reports given by me to my Showrunner/EP and an investigation was never issued for any of my claims.”
Williamson added, “The only time I was asked to participate in an investigation was after a meeting I called in June following our Season 2 announcement. This meeting included the Showrunner and two other producers as well as my agent and SAG-AFTRA Union Rep. It was clear to all present in the meeting that the Showrunner had not shared my reports with the any of the producers.”
“After my initial report of sexual harassment, I was assured that Grosse would be fired. I was also asked to film with him the very next day as a courtesy to the script, even though we had not begun filming the episode yet. Grosse reappeared on our call sheet at the end of the season, I was even written in scenes with him. I asked the Showrunner about this and he admitted to me that the Grosse had not been fired nor had he gotten HR involved. I was asked to return this season, and promised that “everything was handled.””
She concluded, ” The investigation hadn’t even begun and Season 2 had already started filming. I turned it down and I walked. Now is the best time in the world to be a woman and I have a platform so it’s time to use my Voice. Strength comes from within. It comes from Above. “Greater is He that is within Me than he that is in the world.””
After the actress spoke out, ABC entertainment president Karey Burke reacted to the situation at the TCA summer press tour presentation on Monday, August 5. “I’m going to, I’m sure, be quite frustrating to you today because I don’t have a lot of answers. I wish I had more,” Burke said.
“I learned, alongside my colleagues, at the end of June that there were allegations and that an investigation had been launched by eOne and I’m waiting for the results of that investigation, just as you are, to get more answers.”
She added, “I can trust the investigation because…the production company hired an independent third party to do the investigation. I’m hopeful that those results will be independent and trustworthy and anticipate they will be. At that time, those answers and those conclusions will help guide us about how to handle situations like that in the future if, in fact, there has been any sort of communication breakdown.”
the network and production company Entertainment One released public statements on Sunday regarding the matter.
“The allegations involve a production from Entertainment One,” the statement from ABC said. “In late June, eOne made us aware and informed us that they launched an investigation that is ongoing. The safety of working environments is a top priority for us, and we take this matter very seriously.”
Entertainment One added, “We have initiated an independent investigation which is ongoing and as such, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”