Netflix’s Dear White People is one of the many shows that has been put on the back burner in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Series creator Justin Simien has since confirmed that the upcoming fourth and final season has been written. However, it looks like the show will be without one of its stars when it returns for its final run, as Jeremy Tardy has reportedly exited the show following a pay dispute. And the actor has since accused Lionsgate Television of racial discrimination.
Jeremy Tardy, who had played African student Rashid Mburu since the show’s first season, discussed the situation in a lengthy message posted to Facebook. The actor initially stated that he would not be returning due to his “experience with Lionsgate and their practices of racial discrimination.” He then went on to explain that his management team tried to propose a counteroffer to the deal Tardy was initially offered for his return. While Lionsgate would not accept the offer, Tardy later found out that one of his white co-stars was able to re-negotiate their deal:
After being offered to return for several episodes my team was notified that our counter offer would not be considered and 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 went on to say that he and his team brought up the matter before Lionsgate and the producers, who maintained that his deal could not be renegotiated:
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.
Following this, Jeremy Tardy says that he, along with six other recurring cast members, opted to pass on the initial deals they were all offered. However, Tardy says their efforts were “undermined” due to “side deal offers and a lack of transparency.” The actor also took Lionsgate and Netflix to task for their alleged practices after the companies recently voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Lionsgate has since responded to the matter in a statement (via Variety), saying that the decision was "a purely financial negotiation regarding deal terms" and that the monetary decisions were not race-related:
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.
As of right now, Netflix has not announced a production start date for Dear White People Season 4. Details on the season’s story are also being kept under wraps, though Justin Simien has teased that, in light of recent events, the season has now become “more relevant” than he and the writing staff could have ever imagined.
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