Actor Jason Mitchell was recently dropped from the Showtime series The Chi following reports of inappropriate behavior. As the fallout from the allegations continues, series creator Lena Waithe has stepped up to discuss the issue.
In an interview on the radio show The Breakfast Club, Waithe addressed the allegations and her initial response to them. She notes that she was aware of the alleged misconduct after production of the show’s first season and took steps to resolve the problem, which included hiring a female showrunner, Ayanna Floyd Davis, for season 2.
“There were conversations that were had, HR was made aware, and all the parties involved were like, this thing has been resolved, enough that both parties were willing to return to the show,” Waithe says in the interview. She adds that there were “huge precautions” taken against misconduct which included “extensive sexual harassment training on set,” and that she believed placing women “in positions of power on the show” would help change the working environment.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. Waithe says Davis called her during filming of the second season to inform her that the situation had not improved much. “She said to me, ‘You can’t reach out to anybody. You’ve got to sit tight. HR has to handle this,'” Waithe says, adding that she wishes she had taken more direct action and reached out to the affected cast member herself. “What I want to do is own that I wish I could’ve handled the situation differently, and I wish I would’ve done more,” she says.
Waithe claims that Mitchell never acted inappropriately towards her, but says she “called him and got really real,” telling the actor, “Don’t treat any woman differently than the way you would treat me.” Ultimately, however, Mitchell’s dismissal was not up to Waithe. “I don’t have the power to fire anyone. I don’t. I wish I did,” she says.
The Chi has been renewed for a third season, which will be produced without Mitchell’s involvement. The actor has yet to publicly address the allegations against him. You can listen to the full interview above.