Jeremy Tardy exits Dear White People, accuses studio of racial discrimination
Actor Jeremy Tardy will not return to Dear White People for its upcoming fourth and final season, citing his experience with studio Lionsgate, which produces the Netflix series, and what he called "their practices of racial discrimination."
In a lengthy social media post on Friday, Tardy, who has held a recurring role on the series since its first season, said the studio declined his counteroffer during salary negotiations, stating that "the initial offer was the '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," Tardy 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."
In response, Tardy said, he and six other recurring cast members "banded together" to collectively decline Lionsgate's initial offers, in an attempt to negotiate better deals as a group. "However, our collective bargaining power was undermined with side deal offers and lack of transparency," he continued. "These tactics led to some individuals taking deals before the collective group received a fair and equitable negotiation process."
Tardy then called out Netflix and Lionsgate for "their shameful practices of discrimination and racial inequality with regard to how they have historically undervalued and lowballed people of color." "The fact that this has occurred behind the scenes of a show which purports to address systemic issues of racism and discrimination displays the very epitome of hypocrisy," he concluded. "Lionsgate. Netflix. I see you. We see you."
In a statement provided to EW, Lionsgate said the matter was “a purely financial negotiation regarding deal terms." "Lionsgate is committed to equal treatment for all talent regardless of race, gender, age or sexual orientation," the statement continued. "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."
A representative for Netflix declined to comment, deferring to Lionsgate on the matter.
Tardy played Kenyan college student Rashid Bakr over 11 episodes of Dear White People, which is based on creator Justin Simien's 2014 indie film of the same name. The series takes place at a fictional Ivy League university and explores various issues surrounding race and politics through an ensemble cast. In October, Netflix renewed the show, which also stars Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell, and Antoinette Robertson, for a fourth and final season.