‘The Chi’ Showrunner Ayanna Floyd says Lena Waithe, the show’s creator, knew about Jason Mitchell’s misconduct and the multiple complaints filed by actresses on the show.
Michell, 32, was terminated from the show only after he was fired from Netflix’s “Desperados” for harassing 2 Mexican actresses from the moment he arrived on the set.
Mitchell, who is best known for his breakout role as the late rapper Eazy E in Straight Outta Compton, reportedly stood outside the dressing rooms of the “Desperados” actresses and made inappropriate statements.
The director’s response was swift. Mitchell was fired and replaced by another actor. His swift termination from “Desperados” prompted his slow dismissal from The Chi.
He was also dumped by his agent and manager.
Tiffany Boone, who played Mitchell’s girlfriend on The Chi, complained about the harassment on the set. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Boone made repeated allegations of sexual harassment against Mitchell and she allegedly felt unsafe on the set of The Chi.
At times her fiancé, actor Marque Richardson (“Dear White People”), came to the set when Boone shot scenes with Mitchell, according to THR.
Boone, 31, eventually asked to be released from her contract to pursue other acting opportunities.
According to Deadline, Mitchell was investigated in 2016 for body slamming an 18-year-old female on the floor of a Boston hotel room.
According to Floyd, Waithe, 35, was well aware of allegations made against Mitchell. Waithe said publicly that she knew about the complaints since season one and she was taking steps to handle Mitchell, whom she was fond of and treated like one of her boys.
“I’ve been very involved in Time’s Up and that movement, and for season two, we’re making sure that women feel safe,” Waithe told The Hollywood Reporter in June 2018. “[I]f you want to play that game and be disrespectful or misbehave on set with an actress or anyone, I’ll happily call Showtime and say, ‘This person has to go,’ and you will get shot up and it’ll be a wonderful finale.”
But Mitchell was still around when The Chi was green lighted for a 3rd season.
Showrunner Floyd challenged Waithe’s efforts to correct Mitchell’s behavior.
“When I took the helm in season two, it was Lena who informed me of the issues between Jason Mitchell and Tiffany Boone from season one, and that Tiffany was thinking of leaving the show because of it,” says Floyd. “As a result of this information, I discussed Tiffany’s claims with the studio’s HR department and set up HR presentations for the writers, cast and crew. Ultimately, everyone was well aware of Jason’s behavior and his multiple HR cases, including Lena, the creator and an executive producer of the show, who is very involved at the studio and network level.”
Mitchell’s character, Brandon, didn’t die in a hail of gunfire in season two, instead, Floyd says Waithe pushed for a Black female Showrunner to smooth over concerns on the set.
Season one Showrunner, Elwood Reid, declined to comment, but a source told THR that he was unaware of the complaints against Mitchell.
Floyd said she quickly became a target of Mitchell’s rage.
“As showrunner, I did everything I could to deal with his behavior, by speaking with the studio’s HR department multiple times and instructing one actress to call HR herself, before I became a target of his rage and inappropriateness, and had to report him to HR, as well.”
In a statement after Boone departed the show, Waithe said, “I think Tiffany is a wonderful actress and an extremely brave woman. I wish her nothing but success in the future. I look forward to getting back to work on season three.”
Waithe did not respond to The Hollywood Reporter‘s request for a comment. The openly lesbian Emmy winner has previously protested the prevalence of “heteronormative” gender roles in today’s society.
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