“The Rookie” & Afton Williamson: ABC Acts Like They’re New at This [OPINION]

On August 14, the folks at ABC‘s The Rookie posted a new tweet for the first time since star Afton Williamson‘s August 4 allegations of racism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault against the production. The retweet – the first action on the show’s official twitter account in two weeks  is a TV Insider cast interview from San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC). Williamson, who quit the show in response to the alleged horrific treatment, was obviously not featured. The remaining cast, however, are upbeat, positive, and joking around about being killed off on the show. While this type of tweet is routine in the lead up to a fall season premier, the timing and tone are – at best – questionable.

After all, it is Nathan Fillion who is supposed to be acting as “the rookie”… not ABC.

ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke‘s recent comments at the Television Critics Association (TCA) summer press event regarding Williamson’s allegations were the first (and only) public statement from the network or the show. Burke stated that she was “confused” and “frustrated” and “waiting for answers” from the Entertainment One independent investigation into the matter.

However, in the days and weeks since Williamson came forward and Burke made her initial statement, no one from ABC or The Rookie has attempted to reassure fans. There have been zero public statements of support from Williamson’s castmates. Fillion not only the show’s star but also an executive producer, has not addressed the issue – even with the beating he’s taken on social media. Showrunner Alexi Hawley – who Williamson names directly in her claims – has not surpridingly remained silent.

The Rookie Season 1 Episode 18 - All Is Not Quiet On The "Homefront"
(ABC/Tony Rivetti)

With many considering Williamson the breakout star of the show’s first season, fans are waiting for someone to address the controversy. Even if the entire cast is contractually obligated to remain silent, you would think that an official statement could been issued. Instead, the public relations/crisis management team behind The Rookie chose a lighthearted, giggly video about love triangles and short sleeves to break their radio silence.

The move is amateur at best, a sign the network sacrifice empathy for series promotion at worst – either way, both unworthy of a large network like ABC and a multimedia corporation like The Walt Disney Company.

The Rookie fans, who fought hard to get the show renewed, deserve better.

So does Afton Williamson.

View this post on Instagram

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,Demetrius Grosse,and the racist commentary & bullying from the Hair Dept.Head, Sally Ciganovich 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.Ciganovich 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 Grosse 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. Grosse 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 Grosse 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” ❤️🙏🏽

A post shared by Afton Williamson (@therealaftonw) on

About Erin Wilhelm

Erin is a lifelong geek who is a part-time writer for Bleeding Cool. Between her day job and her mom job, Erin reads and watches all the fantasy and sci-fi she can get her hands on. She is a Trekkie, Warsie, Potterhead, recreational WoW nerd, and Whovian. Find her on twitter @pearlsandchucks.

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