Afton Williamson, one of the stars of CTV hit The Rookie, surprised many last week when she announced she was quitting the show. Her character, Talia Bishop, played training officer to Nathan Fillion’s John Nolan, and they were a fun duo to watch. But behind the scenes, things weren’t so fun for Williamson as her claims of sexual harassment and bullying were ignored by the powers-that-be of the show. Now, Afton is calling everyone out.
It all started on Sunday when Williamson took to Instagram to reveal she experienced racial discrimination and racially charged inappropriate comments from the hair department, and bullying from executive producers. She added that the racist commentary and bullying from hair department head Sallie Ciganovich continued throughout the season, and while Ciganovich was fired from her position, it came after a sexual assault at the show’s wrap party, not because of what Williamson experienced up until then. “The only time I was asked to participate in an investigation was after a meeting I called in June following our Season 2 announcement,” she wrote. “This meeting included the Showrunner [Alexi Hawley] 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 any of the producers.”
But that wasn’t it. Williamson also accused recurring guest actor Demetrius Grosse of sexual harassment, and was told by Hawley he would be fired. But shortly after, she was asked to film with him “as a courtesy to the script,” then Grosse “reappeared on our call sheet at the end of the season,” and when the actress asked Hawley about it, “he admitted to me that Grosse had not been fired nor had he gotten HR involved.” That’s when she bounced.
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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” ❤️🙏🏽
Many of her fans showed the actress support in the comments, and in a sign of solidarity, Angela Bassett commented, “I’m SO proud of you and stand COMPLETELY in support of you. Speak your truth and speak it LOUD!”
In a follow-up post Monday night, Williamson thanked everyone for their love and kind words and how once her story got out, it has shown her just “how much this world is aching with victims of racism, discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault [and] sexual abuse.” And it takes a brave person like Williamson to stand up and let her voice be heard. Which is what Afton did, once again, making clear she was not going quietly and reiterated the names of those who allegedly wronged her.
Afton added that despite being a victim, she’s also a survivor and will continue to fight to be heard.
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To my Fans, my Friends, my Supporters: I want to Thank EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU. I am so beyond overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, kind words, scriptures, strength filled quotes and devout support that has come my way. One Instagram post is just like those 2 fish and 5 loaves of Bread. The rippling effect it has had in just a few hours shows how much this world is aching with victims of racism, discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual abuse all of it. I am no stranger to all of the above even before this experience. But it is through this experience and my platform that God pushed me to use the power within me. It just takes a VOICE. I never imagined so many of us have experienced these horrible circumstances and that can NO LONGER GO UNHEARD. We have a voice. ALL OF US. It is our DUTY to use it. I used to fear the word Victim. I scoffed at it because all I was told when these injustices happened to me, was to Survive. Survivor I am. Victim I am also. A victim of injustice. A victim of assault. A victim of abuse and harassment. If you have experienced any of the above, you are too and I for one stand with you and I’m no longer afraid to be vocal about it. We Can Stand Together. Let’s Change This Sickness. That Change starts with US. This season on The Rookie, I was sexually harassed by fellow actor Demetrius Grosse. I was Racially Bullied and Discriminated against and Sexually Assaulted by Hair Department Head Sally Nicole Ciganovich. Let’s BE the CHANGE we WANT to SEE❤️👊🏾🙏🏾
ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke told reporters at the TCA summer press tour that the investigation is still ongoing, and while she doesn’t have a lot of answers and wishes she had more, she is “hopeful that those results will be independent and trustworthy. Those answers and those conclusions will help guide us on how to handle such situations in the future.”
The Rookie returns to CTV in its new Sunday night timeslot on September 29.