The Rookie series regular Afton Williamson, who played John Nolan’s (Nathan Fillion) training officer Talia Bishop, will not be returning for Season 2. In an Instagram post published early Sunday, Williamson alleges that she quit the ABC series because of systematic racism/racially charged comments, bullying, and sexual harassment, which remained largely ignored by the producers of the show until the sexual harassment by the head of the hair department escalated to sexual assault at the wrap party and the person was fired.
She claims that she had reported inappropriate behavior by the hair department and a recurring guest star to executive producer/showrunner Alexi Hawley but her claims were not investigated, and the recurring guest star was allowed to continue, leading to her decision to leave the show, produced by Entertainment One and ABC Studios. Williamson’s allegations are now being investigated.
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“Throughout the filming of the pilot, I experienced Racial Discrimination/Racially Charged inappropriate comments from the hair department and bullying from Executive Producers,” she writes. “During the Season, it continued along with Sexual Harassment from a recurring guest star and the racist commentary & bullying from the Hair Dept. Head 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. The Hair Dept. Head 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. 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.”
Williamson says that “after my initial report of sexual harassment, I was assured that the actor would be fired and “as a courtesy to the script” she filmed with him the very next day. But when “this actor 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 actor had not been fired nor had he gotten HR involved.”
“I was asked to return this season, and promised that “everything was handled.” 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.”
UPDATE: The Rookie lead studio, eOne, which production and any related issues, on Sunday afternoon released a statement regarding Williamson’s allegations. “We take claims of this nature very seriously,” the statement read. “We have initiated an independent investigation which is ongoing and as such, it would not be appropriate to comment at this time.”
Said ABC Studios in a statement, “The allegations involve a production from Entertainment One. 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.”