If you were eagerly anticipating the return of Starz’s Run the World for season 2, you’re in for a major cast shakeup: Andrea Bordeaux, who played the Harlem crew’s resident lover girl Ella in the girlfriend comedy, has officially parted ways with the production over her failure to meet its vaccination requirements.
Run the World premiered in summer 2021, introducing fans to a dynamic group of Black women thriving in Harlem. A collaboration between creator Leigh Davenport and showrunner Yvette Lee Bowser, the series was positioned as the spiritual descendant of beloved shows like Girlfriends and Living Single. Bordeaux rounded out the ensemble cast — which also starred Bresha Webb, Corbin Reid, and Amber Stevens West — as Ella, a driven journalist whose tumultuous professional life was only outdone by the frequent mayhem in her love life.
Unfortunately, Bordeaux won’t be reprising the role of Ella when Run the World returns for a second season. On February 5, Deadline reported that the actress had stepped away from the Starz series after reaching a standstill with Lionsgate Television regarding its coronavirus protocol. The company is mandating its cast and crews across projects to be vaccinated amidst the ongoing global pandemic, but Bordeaux did not agree to the vaccination mandate and was ultimately released from her contract with the studio and the show.
In a statement shared on her Instagram account, Bordeaux emphasized that she hadn’t walked away from Run the World but had actually been fired, a decision that she described as “heartbreaking beyond words.”
“Getting the opportunity to play Ella on #RunTheWorld was an absolute dream come true,” Bordeaux captioned a screenshot of the Deadline story on Instagram. “I would have loved to continue to grow with this delightful character and having to come to terms with this sharp turn in my life, my dream, and career these past several weeks has been heartbreaking beyond words.”
“My heart is with all of the people around the world who feel that they are losing so much due to their choice to stand in their convictions and to honor their deepest core beliefs,” she continued. “What I know for certain is that when you are leading with your heart and honoring the path that Spirit has laid out for you, nothing can be taken away that will not be returned 1000 fold.”
The former Run the World star is just the latest in a string of entertainers who have sparked controversy for questioning or even downright rejecting the science behind the coronavirus vaccine. In December 2020, Black Panther’s Letitia Wright set the Twitter timeline ablaze after sharing a video taking issues with the vaccine. Just weeks later, an anonymous report claimed that Wright had been sharing anti-vaxx sentiments on the set of Black Panther 2 (which the actress vehemently denied), leading to extended conversation about whether or not she should be allowed to continue in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Shuri. An injury on set stalled production of the highly anticipated film for months, but Wright has since resumed filming as of early January 2022, hinting that she might have ultimately agreed to be vaccinated.
Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Iriving is also facing multiple penalties since revealing that he won’t be taking the vaccine despite the NBA’s evolving COVID policies for its players. The personal choice, which Irving has stressed is not anti-vaxx but about “being true to what feels good for [him],” is a pretty costly one; because of New York City’s strict COVID protocol that demands at least partial vaccination in public places (like basketball gyms), Irving could be forced to pay $5,000 for every home game he misses due to being unvaccinated.
Bordeaux, Wright, and Irving are far from the only people taking issue with the vaccines — vaccine hesitancy is a public health crisis that’s wreaking havoc on this country, especially within the Black community. Although concerns about the vaccines’ impact are somewhat understandable given the history of the medical industry exploiting Black patients, the rapid spread of misinformation does have a real impact: Black people currently make up a significant amount of the national COVID fatality rate, which is composed mostly of unvaccinated individuals.
As the pandemic continues with no end in sight, it’s likely that studios will continue requiring their employees to follow CDC recommendations and company-wide COVID protocols. But for some stars, the threat of possibly losing a bag just isn’t enough to get with the program, and they’re willing to pay the hefty price for opting out of getting vaccinated.