Actress Shareena Clanton has released a public statement detailing alleged racism she experienced whilst working on the set of Neighbours.
“Struggling to post anything positive about the months I endured on @neighbours after multiple racist traumas and navigating ongoing counselling from this highly problematic show. It’s been lonely, triggering and traumatising to work in such a culturally unsafe space,” she began.
Some of the allegations include that a head of department openly laughed at the word “cum slut” by a cast member, a senior staff member openly laughing whilst using the term “slave driver” in reference to him “working hard”, a white actress openly calling another actress of colour a “lil’ monkey”, and the “N”-word openly being used on-set and in the green room.
She also writes about paying a Wurundjeri Elder for her cultural safety work on the set out of her own pocket, after being told that the show didn’t have the budget to pay the Elder.
In response to her calling out the alleged racism, Clanton says that she was ostracised and marginalised amongst the cast and crew, and that HR told her they were unsure of what else they could do.
Clanton is a Wangatha, Yamatji, Noongar and Gidja woman who first rose to fame for playing Doreen Anderson in Wentworth, which is also produced by Fremantle Meda.
In a statement, Fremantle Media said: “Neighbours strives to be a platform for diversity and inclusion on-screen and off-screen. Our quest is always to continue to grow and develop in this area and we acknowledge that this is an evolving process.”
“Shareena’s involvement in the creative process and on set was invaluable and hugely educational and will benefit the series moving forward. There have been significant and lengthy discussions with Shareena during her time on Neighbours and we will continue to work with all cast and crew to ensure Neighbours continues to be a fully inclusive environment.”
Clanton’s full post reads:
“Struggling to post anything positive about the months I endured on @neighbours after multiple racist traumas and navigating ongoing counselling from this highly problematic show. It’s been lonely, triggering and traumatising to work in such a culturally unsafe space.
To avoid any lawsuit by the production or a potential defamation case, I have not included any specific names and made it non-identifiable in what I’m about to reveal to you:
-A Head of Department thought it funny and appropriate to openly laugh at the word “cum slut” by a cast member who loudly spoke about “cum”, “cum”, “cum” in front of other cast and crew.
-Due to my insistence of engaging a Wurundjeri Elder to be included for ongoing cultural safety reasons like cultural protocols followed and debriefing, I was told “this is not a film production, Shareena.” and that “we simply don’t have the budget”. The humble few hundred dollars a week Aunty and I proposed was in contrast to the thousands of dollars actors were receiving each pay. I paid Aunty directly out of my own income to make up for this “lack of budget”.
-A senior staff member openly laughed whilst using the term “slave driver” in reference to him “working hard”. My management at the time didn’t help as they endorsed/encouraged this “office banter”. I fired the agent.
-Overt and covert levels of racism were rife, often disguised as “jokes” like a white actress openly calling another actress of colour a “lil’ monkey”.
-Twice I endured the “N”-word openly being used on-set and in the green room. I was even told to “go somewhere else” by staff when confronting the actor directly because I was making others “uncomfortable”.
-A white actress openly laughed at the racist “N”-word to only lie about laughing about it when questioned by HR. She said that I “misconstrued” what she was “laughing at” and that she was laughing at “something else”. That is a blatant lie.
-The retaliation for calling out this misconduct and racism often left me ostracised and further marginalised. In what was meant to have HR follow up and discuss this led to them saying they were unsure of “what else they could do”.
I’ll never work for this show again.”