Afton Williamson says she left The Rookie because of 'racial discrimination' and 'bullying'
Afton Williamson is not coming back to ABC’s The Rookie, and she says it’s because of bullying, racial discrimination, and the lack of response by the production team.
On Sunday, Williamson shared a post on Instagram with a photograph of a drawing of her character, TO Talia Bishop, and a lengthy caption detailing her reasons for not returning to ABC’s The Rookie for a second season.
“I will not be returning for Season 2 of The Rookie,” she wrote. “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. escalated into sexual assault at our wrap party.”
“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 safety of working environments is a top priority for us, and we take this matter very seriously,” ABC Studios said in response to Williamson’s allegations.
“We take claims of this nature very seriously. We have initiated an independent investigation which is ongoing and as such, it would not be appropriate to comment at this time,” eOne added in a separate comment.
On July 26, TVLine exclusively reported the actress would not be returning to the ABC cop show for its sophomore season. At the time, the split was reported to be “amicable.” But this social media post from Williamson alleges a very different story.
In the post, Williamson also notes that she reported the sexual harassment to the showrunner/EP (the show was created and overseen by Alexi Hawley). Williamson alleges the complaint remained “undocumented” and says it was “not reported to HR as promised.”
She continues, “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 only time I was asked to participate in an investigation was after a meeting I called in June following our Season 2 announcement. 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.”
Williamson confirms the hair department head was fired, but only after the sexual assault at the wrap party, “NOT for an entire year of outward racism/racially charged language and bullying behavior in and out of the Hair and Makeup trailer.”
She also elaborated on her allegations of sexual harassment at the hands of a guest star, citing a continued pattern of alleged inaction in response to her complaints. “After my initial report of sexual harassment, I was assured that the actor would be fired,” she wrote. “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. This actor reappeared on our call sheet at the end of the season, I was even written in scenes with him. I asked the Showrunner about this and he admitted to me that the actor had not been fired nor had he gotten HR involved.”
Williamson concluded by explaining her reasons for deciding not to return for a second season. “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,” she finished. “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’ ❤️??.”
Her character, Talia Bishop, was a significant character throughout the first season of The Rookie. As title character John Nolan’s (Nathan Fillion) TO, Bishop became something of a mentor to Nolan, struggling with how his failings as a rookie might permanently hamper her dreams of being promoted to detective. Yet in spite of this, she took Nolan under her wing and became a guiding light for him throughout the season.
Her exit is certain to leave a major gap in storytelling that will need to be addressed — however, Harold Perrineau (Lost) has already been cast as a male detective poised to mentor Nolan in a new capacity.
The Rookie (TV series)