'The Rookie' Star Afton Williamson Says She Quit Show Over Alleged Racial Discrimination and Sexual Assault
By Jennifer Drysdale
Afton Williamson took to Instagram on Sunday to explain that she won't be returning for The Rookie's upcoming second season because of alleged bullying, racial discrimination and a lack of action by the show's production team. ET has reached out to ABC for comment.
News that Williamson would be leaving the series first broke in late July. Her character, TO Talia Bishop, was a significant character during the show's first season, becoming a mentor to Nathan Fillion's John Nolan.
"I will not be returning for Season 2 of The Rookie," the actress confirmed on Sunday. "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 [Alexi Hawley] 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," Williamson claimed. "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 actress alleged she was only asked to participate in an investigation following a meeting she called in June after the show had been renewed for a second season. "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," she claimed.
"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," Williamson alleged, further claiming that she was written in scenes with the unnamed actor. "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' ❤️??," she concluded her message.
It's unclear how Williamson's exit will be addressed on season two of The Rookie, however Harold Perrineau will reportedly be joining the series as a male detective.
A spokesperson for ABC Studios released a statement to ET on Sunday, addressing Williamson's claims and their handling of the situation. "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 statement read. "The safety of working environments is a top priority for us, and we take this matter very seriously."