Jeremy Tardy, who plays Rashid Bakr on the hit satire “Dear White People,” quit the show, calling out Netflix and parent company Lionsgate for racial discrimination in a September 11 Facebook message.
To explain how he reached the decision about whether he would return for the fourth and final season, Tardy wrote that, “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.”
The series, inspired by Justin Simien’s 2014 film of the same name, features a group of Black students at a mostly-white Ivy League college who band together to navigate microaggressions and race relations. According to Deadline, Simien, who is the series’ executive producer and co-showrunner, approved all offers.
The website also explained that Tardy had attempted to create his own negotiating unit with six other recurring cast members to push back on the initial deal in solidarity. But he was ultimately left out in the cold and without a contract when some of those cast members made side deals instead. Since Tardy’s announcement, some on social media have been calling for names.
So who sold out?
rn— Asha Rae? (@Musicald0_odle) September 12, 2020
In Tardy’s post, he wrote, “These companies have recently released statements and even donations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. I am calling out their shameful practices of discrimination and racial inequality with regard to how they have historically undervalued and lowballed people of color. Politically correct lip service and symbolic gestures do not absolve you of the daily responsibility of doing business in a fair and equitable manner." Lionsgate told Deadline that the negotiations were solely focused on finances, not race.
“This was a purely financial negotiation regarding deal terms,” reps for Lionsgate told Deadline. “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.”
Once the final season resumes production and premieres, fans of the show should not expect to see the return of the multilingual character Rashid Bakr, who brought the question of what it meant to be Kenyan among a group of Black students fighting to maintain their own identities. They will, however, get a series that reflects a post-George Floyd world, Simien recently told CinemaWorld.