One of the leads of ABC’s popular crime-dramedy series, The Rookie, has quit the show due to what she claims were repeated instances of sexual harassment and systematic racism throughout the course of filming the first season — behavior that went ignored by the show’s higher-ups. Afton Williamson, who starred as a training officer tasked with working with Nathan Fillion’s rookie cop, wrote in an Instagram message that she was frequently subjected to “racial discrimination/racially charged inappropriate comments from the hair department,” as well as sexual harassment from an unidentified “recurring guest star.” The harassment, Williamson added, escalated at the show’s season-one wrap party, when the head of the hair department sexually assaulted her. When she met with The Rookie’s showrunner, Alexi Hawley, to voice her complaints, he allegedly did nothing to look into the issues.
“HR protocol was never adhered to,” Williamson wrote. “An investigation was never issued for any of my claims.” Eventually, she says, she was able to get a meeting with Hawley, two producers, her agent, and a SAG-AFTRA union representative in June, where she was promised that “everything was handled” in the lead-up to season two. (The hair department head was fired prior to this meeting.) However, Williamson learned at the meeting that the recurring guest star had not been fired, despite being “assured” he would be. “It was clear to all present in the meeting that the showrunner had not shared my reports with the any of the producers,” she added. “The investigation hadn’t even begun and season 2 had already started filming.”
As such, Williamson said she had no choice but to “walk” away from The Rookie. “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,” she concluded. “Strength comes from within. It comes from above.” TV Line reports Williamson’s character will not be recast, but rather, a new training officer played by Lost alum Harold Perrineau will be introduced for a short arc.
Update, Monday morning: Following Williamson’s post, the production company behind The Rookie said they’ve commissioned an independent investigation into her allegations. “We take claims of this nature very seriously,” production company eOne said in a statement to TVLine. “We have initiated an independent investigation which is ongoing and as such, it would not be appropriate to comment at this time.”
ABC also released a statement, saying eOne’s investigation was launched earlier this summer: “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.”
Update, Monday evening: In an Instagram photo, Williamson named the guest star who she claims sexually harassed her, and the hair department head she alleges discriminated against and sexually assaulted her.