Afton Williamson Says She Quit ABC's 'The Rookie' After Claims Of Racism And Sexual Misconduct Were Ignored

August 4th 2019

After news surfaced last week that she would be exiting the show, Afton Williamson is addressing why she has left ABC's police procedural, The Rookie. She co-starred in the series with Nathan Fillion, Alyssa Diaz, Richard T. Jones, Titus Makin, Mercedes Mason, Melissa O'Neil and Eric Winter. Williamson played Talia Bishop, the training officer to Nathan Fillion's Nolan, a 40-year-old rookie. The character had a major presence and was a fan-favorite. Before landing one of the leads in The Rookie, which debuted its first season, she was most known for her roles in VH1's The Breaks and HBO's The Night Of. 

In an Instagram post on Sunday, Williamson details at length the reasoning behind her exit, alleging that racist comments, bullying and sexual harassment were mainly ignored and unaddressed. She says she was the subject of this behavior from the hair department, executive producers and a recurring guest star. Williamson alleges that after she told showrunner Alexi Hawley, her claims were not investigated and that the recurring guest star was able to continue on the show. She also said that the sexual harassment from the hair department escalated to sexual assault at the season 1 wrap party, and that the hair department head was only fired after the alleged assault and not after an "entire year of outward racism/racially charged language and bullying behavior in and out of the hair and makeup trailer."

She says she was not asked to participate in an investigation until after the Season 2 announcement, and she was assured the actor would be fired. However, she claims she was asked to film with the said actor the next day and that he re-appeared on their call sheet at the end of the season, and she was being 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," the post reads.

View this post on Instagram

I will not be returning for Season 2 of The Rookie. I owe it to you my amazing fans to share the Truth. Throughout the filming of the pilot, I experienced Racial Discrimination/Racially Charged inappropriate comments from the hair department and bullying from Executive Producers. 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. After my initial report of sexual harassment, I was assured that the actor 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. 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. Strength comes from within. It comes from Above. “Greater is He that is within Me than he that is in the world” ❤️????????

A post shared by Afton Williamson (@therealaftonw) on

Showrunner Alexi Hawley initially told TVLine, who broke the news of her exit, “It’s not really my place to get into her personal decision.”

Williamson's' full post reads:  I will not be returning for Season 2 of The Rookie. I owe it to you my amazing fans to share the Truth. Throughout the filming of the pilot, I experienced Racial Discrimination/Racially Charged inappropriate comments from the hair department and bullying from Executive Producers. 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. After my initial report of sexual harassment, I was assured that the actor 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. 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. Strength comes from within. It comes from Above. “Greater is He that is within Me than he that is in the world.”

In a statement received by Shadow And Act, Entertainment One, the primary studio behind The Rookie, says:  “We take claims of this nature very seriously. We have initiated an independent investigation which is ongoing and as such, it would not be appropriate to comment at this time.”

ABC Studios, who co-produces with eOne, says: “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."

READ MORE:

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Photo: ABC

by Trey Mangum on August 4th 2019

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