Following news of actor Jason Mitchell’s misconduct allegations, it looks like a public statement has finally been issued by the staff of Showtime’s The Chi. Due to the allegations, Mitchell was removed from the Showtime series, an upcoming Netflix project, Desperados, and was dropped by his agent, manager, and lawyer.
Per sources close to the set, The Chi co-star Tiffany Boone and one other actress filed misconduct complaints against Mitchell—and despite HR training, the alleged behavior persisted. As such, Boone reportedly requested to be released from the series. In a new report from the Hollywood Reporter, The Chi’s showrunner, Ayanna Floyd, has released a statement regarding the claims against the 32-year-old actor. Floyd reportedly filed a complaint against Mitchell herself.
In a statement to THR, Floyd directly challenges Waithe. “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.”
Adds Floyd, “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 her own statement, Waithe focuses only on Boone, saying: “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.” Told of Floyd’s statement, the source close to Waithe said the showrunner did inform Waithe of the ongoing conduct but said she would handle it. (Though Mitchell was the best-known actor on the show, plans for another season are in place and writers are figuring out how to handle the disappearance of his character. Floyd is not returning.)
As for Showtime, a source close to the situation maintains that issues on the show are the domain of production entity Fox 21, and that executives learned only after Mitchell was terminated that at least one other actress besides Boone had allegedly experienced issues with him. This person says Mitchell was allowed to remain, following an HR complaint, because the belief was that he was entitled to a second chance. How that squares with the initial decision to keep him for the third season despite the apparent lack of improvement in his conduct is not clear. Showtime declined to comment, as did Fox 21, which handled not only the HR complaint but the negotiation involving Boone’s departure. Mitchell could not be reached for comment.
I will acknowledge that when I heard about the allegations and claims, I was highly disappointed, as Mitchell was someone I predicted would become a rising star—his previous portrayals in films such as Straight Outta Compton and Mudbound spoke to that. Damn, he really fucked up the bag. As news circulated, I began to see a general sentiment on social media on what Mitchell “lost” as a black man. But, what of the black woman? What about what she lost? Why is the primary concern about him at her expense?
As Vibe reported, Boone was the target of online harassment and shaming following the news, with commenters swarming her social media pages with highly disturbing messages.
Boone’s boyfriend, Marque Richardson (Dear White People) reportedly had to appear onset frequently whenever Boone filmed scenes with Mitchell, where she portrayed his character Brandon’s girlfriend, Jerrika. Following reports of Mitchell’s misconduct, Richardson simply took to Instagram in a sweet gesture of solidarity to his love, posting Boone’s picture alone with a caption featuring a crown emoji.
My one hope is that Boone is currently wrapped in the love and support of her family, friends and loved ones right now and she is able to process this horrible trauma in a healthy way. I also wish the same of the other unnamed actress who also reportedly filed claims against Mitchell. They both deserved better than having to endure such behavior in a space that is supposed to be safe for them. They both deserved better than banal HR training sessions that led nowhere. They both deserved better than to receive little to no justice on a set that was “well aware” of the alleged abuse lobbed against them.
And then, there’s Floyd, a black female showrunner, who, as a leader was allegedly placed in the position to have to encounter Mitchell’s “rage” to the point she had to file a complaint on her own behalf. No one should have to suffer harassment, especially not in the workplace, where you need to be to support yourself and your family.
“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 said in a 2018 interview with THR. “[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.”
The Chi was recently picked up for a third season. The Root had reached out to Waithe’s team for comment, following initial news of Mitchell’s allegations.