'The Chi' Creator Lena Waithe Addresses Jason Mitchell Misconduct Allegations: 'I Wish I Would Have Done More'

Lena Waithe and Jason Mitchell
Greg Doherty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

Lena Waithe is opening up about misconduct allegations against Jason Mitchell, the recently fired former star of the Showtime series she created, The Chi.

The 35-year-old actress and writer called into the morning radio show The Breakfast Club on Thursday, where she publicly addressed the allegations that led to Mitchell's termination and negative claims regarding her handling of the situation.

According to Waithe, she'd been informed of complaints and accusations made against Mitchell following production on the first season of The Chi, and it was because of these concerns that Waithe hired Ayanna Floyd to serve as showrunner on the second season. 

Waithe stated that she believed hiring a black woman to helm the series might create a "safer environment" for the actresses on set.

"Not to say that women are exempt from doing things, but I think it would make it a safer environment. That was my assumption," Waithe said. However, she says she soon got a call from Floyd claiming that Mitchell's alleged behavior was "persisting."

"I don’t regret making a black woman a showrunner. I do regret trusting her to handle it all by herself," Waithe added.

Earlier this month, news surfaced that Mitchell had been fired from the upcoming third season of The Chi, and that he'd been fired from the Netflix comedy Desperados. Additionally, he was dropped by his agent, his manager and his lawyer.

While the exact nature of the alleged misbehavior has not been confirmed, allegations have surfaced both from some of his female co-stars in Desperados, as well as his on-screen girlfriend on The Chi, Tiffany Boone. 

According to multiple reports, Boone asked to be released from her commitment to the series after she found out that Mitchell had not been terminated following the first season, even after she filed official complaints with HR.

Waithe said in her interview on Thursday that she was informed of the claims against Mitchell after the first season had wrapped, and that she confronted the actor about the allegations.

"There was definitely a conversation where I called him and got really real. 'You need to be respectful of any woman on set. You need to be respectful of everybody. Don't treat any woman differently the way you would treat me,'" Waithe claimed she told Mitchell, adding that the 32-year-old actor had never acted inappropriately toward her during their time on set.

Waithe also claimed, when asked why she didn't fire Mitchell in response to the concerns, that she didn't have to authority to terminate cast members. 

"I don’t have the power to fire anyone. I don’t. I wish I did," Waithe said ."I don’t own The Chi. I created it. I sold it. I could be fired off The Chi… People don’t understand that."

According to a statement released by Floyd to The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week, the showrunner claims she and Boone were targets of Mitchell's problematic behavior, and that she'd been informed of the alleged problem when she stepped in ahead of the second season.

"When I took the helm in season two, it was Lena who informed me of the issues between Jason Mitchell and Tiffany Boone from season one, and that Tiffany was thinking of leaving the show because of it," Floyd claimed. "As a result of this information, I discussed Tiffany’s claims with the studio’s HR department and set up HR presentations for the writers, cast and crew."

"Ultimately, everyone was well aware of Jason’s behavior and his multiple HR cases, including Lena," Floyd added.

According to Floyd, she tried to address the situation in her role as showrunner in the most responsible way she could.

"I did everything I could to deal with his behavior, by speaking with the studio’s HR department multiple times and instructing one actress to call HR herself, before I became a target of his rage and inappropriateness, and had to report him to HR, as well," she claims.

Floyd also praised Boone as a talented actress and expressed her dedication to working on the upcoming third season.

"I think Tiffany is a wonderful actress and an extremely brave woman. I wish her nothing but success in the future," Floyd stated. "I look forward to getting back to work on season three."

As for Waithe, she said on Thursday that her biggest regret was not reaching out to Boone personally, to try and address the situation outside of the regular HR channels.

"For anyone to say I would stand by while a woman is being mistreated or harassed and not doing anything is just not true," Waithe said. "I was trying to put people in power to change, but ultimately that wasn’t the answer, I’m always the answer and that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned in all of this."

She went on to say that she would like to "own that I wish I would’ve handled the situation differently, and I wish I would’ve done more."

"What I want to do is own my part in it," she added.

The exact nature of the alleged behavior has not yet been confirmed or officially addressed by Mitchell. According to Deadline, Mitchell was first dropped from Desperados due to an "off-set incident" that producers reportedly investigated and led to his termination, which later resulted in Showtime cutting ties and the departure of Mitchell's representation.

Additionally, MTV has nixed Mitchell's nomination at the upcoming MTV Movie and TV Awards, where he was nominated for his role in The Chi. The network confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, stating, "In light of recent developments, we have removed Jason Mitchell as a nominee."

After his acclaimed performance as Eazy-E in 2015's Straight Outta Compton, the actor went on to appear in Mudbound, Kong: Skull Island, Detroit and, most recently, The Mustang.


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