Afton Williamson, who starred on ABC’s cop dramedy The Rookie, announced on Instagram that she will not be returning for the show’s second season. Her decision to leave came after her claims of racial discrimination and, later, sexual harassment were allegedly ignored by the showrunner and executive producer, Alexi Hawley.
According to Williamson’s Instagram post, she “experienced Racial Discrimination/Racially Charged inappropriate comments from the hair department and bullying from Executive Producers” during filming for the show’s first season. “The racist commentary & bullying from the Hair Dept. Head escalated into Sexual Assault at our Wrap party,” she wrote. “The Sexual Harassment though reported directly to the Showrunner/EP remained undocumented and was not reported to HR as promised.”
Williamson said the hair department head was fired only after the wrap party, and that a season’s worth of racism and bullying was excused. At a meeting with the rest of the producers following the June announcement of season 2, Williamson said it was “clear to all present” that Hawley had not shared Williamson’s reports of racism and harassment.
Along with her allegations against the hair department head, Williamson said that she faced sexual harassment from an unnamed recurring guest star. This was also, she said, brought to Hawley’s attention, and it was also quietly dismissed. “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.” Williamson said that by the end of the season, the showrunner admitted to her that the actor hadn’t been fired, and that he hadn’t informed human resources about her complaint.
In a statement to Refinery29, an ABC Studios spokesperson said: "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."
eOne studios also gave a statement to Refinery29, saying, "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."
TVLine reported in July that Williamson wouldn’t be reprising her role as the titular character’s stern but supportive training officer, but claimed the split was “amicable.” However, Williamson’s report indicates an unsafe and unsupportive working environment — and, she said, when she was asked to return for season 2, “I turned it down and I walked.”
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I will not be returning for Season 2 of The Rookie. 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. Head escalated into Sexual Assault at our Wrap party.The Sexual Harassment though reported directly to the Showrunner/EP remained undocumented and was not reported to HR as promised. The Hair Dept. Head was fired ONLY after the sexual assault and NOT for an entire year of outward racism/racially charged language and bullying behavior in and out of the Hair and Makeup trailer. 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. After my initial report of sexual harassment, I was assured that the actor would be fired. 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. 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. 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” ❤️??
“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,” Williamson wrote on Instagram.
Hawley and ABC have not yet commented on the allegations. Refinery29 has reached out to both, along with Williamson, for comment.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).