Actor Jeremy Tardy announced his exit from Dear White People’s fourth and final season, accusing Lionsgate and Netflix of “shameful practices of discrimination” during his negotiation process.
Tardy, who has portrayed recurring character Rashid Bakr since season 1, made the announcement in both a thread on Twitter and a Facebook post on Friday night. Tardy said he was offered to return to the series for “several episodes,” and during negotiations, his team’s counteroffer on his behalf was not even considered, with Lionsgate allegedly calling the initial offer its “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,” he wrote.
“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,” he added.
Tardy said that he and six other recurring cast members “banded together” by rejecting Lionsgate’s 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,” he wrote.
However, Tardy said some of the cast members in the pact took deals “before the collective group received a fair and equitable negotiation process.” “Our collective bargaining power was undermined with side deal offers and lack of transparency,” he said.
Tardy went on to question the two companies’ support of the Black Lives Matter movement. “Politically correct lip service and symbolic gestures do not absolve you of the daily responsibility of doing business in a fair and equitable manner,” he wrote.
In response, some users are urging Tardy to also call out the cast members who “sold out.” One user suggested that the white cast members who return to the show are “the actors unwilling to take a stand.” “That’s who sold out,” they added.
Lionsgate denied Tardy’s claims, chalking it up to “a purely financial negotiation regarding deal terms” in a statement to Deadline.
“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 4th season,” Lionsgate added.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Netflix and Jeremy Tardy.
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