Dear White People star Jeremy Tardy took to Twitter on Friday to announce that he would not be returning for the Netflix series' fourth and final season, alleging "racial discrimination" in the contract negotiation process.
"Unfortunately I will not be joining NETFLIX’s Dear White People for its fourth and final season due to my experience with Lionsgate and their practices of racial discrimination," wrote Tardy, who recurred as Rashid Bakr on the first three seasons of the show, in a series of tweets. "After being offered to return for several episodes my team was notified that our counter offer would not be considered and that the initial offer was the “best and final”. This news was disturbing because one of my white colleagues — being a true ally — revealed that they too had received the same initial offer and had successfully negotiated a counter offer."
"My team expressed this issue to Lionsgate and the producers maintained their position that the white actor was able to negotiate while I was not- regardless of my credits and experience," the actor continued, sharing that he and some of his castmates then banded together to collectively pass on their initial offers. "Our stance was to move powerfully as a unit in the negotiation process and, more importantly, to stand on principle because this is not simply a monetary matter. We were all aware of the notorious pay disparities between people of color and our white colleagues on Netflix and Lionsgate shows; so this made it blatantly obvious. However, our collective bargaining power was undermined with side deal offers and lack of transparency. These tactics led to some individuals taking deals before the collective group received a fair and equitable negotiation process."
Unfortunately I will not be joining NETFLIX’s Dear White People for its fourth and final season due to my experience with Lionsgate and their practices of racial discrimination.
After being offered to return for several episodes my team was notified that our counter offer would
Ultimately, Tardy shared, his goal was to "call out" Netflix and Lionsgate for their "symbolic gestures" and "hypocrisy."
"These companies have recently released statements and even donations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement," he wrote. "I am calling out their shameful practices of discrimination and racial inequality with regard to how they have historically undervalued and lowballed people of color. Politically correct lip service and symbolic gestures do not absolve you of the daily responsibility of doing business in a fair and equitable manner."
"The fact that this has occurred behind the scenes of a show which purports to address systemic issues of racism and discrimination displays the very epitome of hypocrisy. Lionsgate. Netflix. I see you. We see you."
In a statement to Deadline, Lionsgate said, "This was a purely financial negotiation regarding deal terms. Lionsgate is committed to equal treatment for all talent regardless of race, gender, age or sexual orientation. We are very proud of Dear White People and its place in the national conversation about racial equality and social justice and we look forward to beginning production on its fourth season."
In July, ET spoke with Dear White People creator Justin Simien about what fans could expect from the fourth and final season.
"We’re really trying to tune in to what’s going on in the country," he said of his writing team’s approach to crafting each season. "A lot of people just aren’t really paying attention to it as closely as we are. And so it appears, like, almost prophetic. But I have to say, if things go well, it hopefully will be a time capsule."
Simien wouldn't release any specific details about the season 4 plot, except to say that he has big plans for the final volume of the story, which he sees as the summation of everything that the franchise has been about. "You’re going to see us really delving into, of course, more issues of systemic racism. But also how possible is it really to lead a civil rights movement in such a capitalist place? We’re going to get into some of those questions."