A Black trans actor who starred in Broadway performances of hit show Hamilton has accused producers of not renewing their contract after they requested a gender-neutral dressing room.
Hamilton strongly denies the allegation, which has been made by non-binary performer Suni Reid in an official Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint.
Reid played starring roles in Hamilton including Aaron Burr, George Washington, Hercules Mulligan/James Madison and Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s show about America’s Founding Fathers is the story of “America then, as told by America now”, featuring Black and POC actors as the Founding Fathers and other historical figures.
It’s soundtrack draws heavily from genres including hip-hop, soul and R&B, with songs including “My Shot”, “Aaron Burn, Sir”, “Right Hand Man” and “The Story of Tonight”.
Reid’s lawyers said in a statement that the non-binary actor had been “forced out” because they “stood up for themselves”. The complaint also alleges that Reid was discriminated against and sometimes harassed by cast members and management, “including incidents in which certain actors physically threatened Mx Reid or intentionally and repeatedly mis-gendered them”.
“Publicly, Hamilton is a beacon of diversity and appears committed to causes seeking social justice and harmony,” said Lawrence M Pearson and Lindsay M Goldbrum of Wigdor LLP.
The statement continues: “Behind the curtain, however, the company’s management will force out a Black, transgender cast member simply because they stood up for themselves and advocated for a more equitable workplace, and therefore called that public image into question.
“We look forward to upholding Mx Reid’s rights and hope this is a wake-up call for the theatre industry about the systemic inequities that persist even at its greatest heights.”
According to their complaint, Reid asked last June for a gender-neutral dressing room at the Hollywood venue where Hamilton was playing. The production apparently later did provide a gender-neutral dressing room, after cast member Rory O’Malley “generously offered to give up his dressing room, but the company still would not drop its retaliatory animus toward Mx Reid and rescinded their contract renewal offer altogether”.
According to Reid’s lawyers, “weeks later” the show “suspended the renewal of Mx Reid’s contract, sidelining them during rehearsals, previews, and finally opening night and beyond”.
Reid sought legal advice in late July, and informed Hamilton they would be bringing a complaint of discrimination and retaliation. In September 2021, the producers told them their contract wasn’t being renewed.
A Hamilton spokesperson has strongly denied the allegation, telling Deadline that Reid was offered a contract “with terms responsive to their requests” and that producers respected them, providing financial support and housing.
“Suni Reid was a valued cast member for more than three years,” says the Hamilton statement. “We offered them a contract to return to Hamilton with terms responsive to their requests.
“We deny the allegations in the Charge. We have not discriminated or retaliated against Suni. Since the shutdown, our organisation has taken care of our community.
“We have treated Suni with the same respect and consideration as all the company members of Hamilton. Specifically, we have given Suni direct financial support, paid for their health insurance, and paid for their housing.
“We wish Suni well in their future endeavours.”