Hollyoaks star Rachel Adedeji (who plays Lisa Loveday) has called out the soap for what she claimed was a "disingenuous" and "performative" response to the Black Lives Matter protests.
After the soap's announcement on Thursday (June 4) that it will address the Black Lives Matter movement using a special podcast about racism, Rachel took to Twitter to voice her disappointment with its approach at showing solidarity, calling its actions "the bare minimum".
She referenced various experiences of her own, asking: "Did Black Lives Matter when I was told 'You're all the same' by a make-up artist you employed, and remains in employment till this day?
"Did Black Lives Matter when a number of female black actors were forced to drastically change their hair, because if not, the viewers 'would not be able to tell them apart'?
"Do Black Lives Matter when my fellow black cast mates are deemed angry, aggressive and too vocal?
"Did Black Lives Matter when we were referred to as 'blackies' by a senior member of the production team? Do Black Lives really Matter to you if over the last 4 years at Hollyoaks, I have only worked with ONE black director?"
She went on to call having a Black cast member speak on behalf of the soap as "not as progressive as you think".
"Very little is being done behind the scenes. Unfortunately Hollyoaks' response seems to be performative and disingenuous," she alleged.
Rachel then recommended where she feels change must begin, stressing the "positive" parts of working on the soap but above all that more needs to be done.
"It starts within the workplace. Working at Hollyoaks is mostly positive, but the experiences I have encountered are a constant reminder of how difficult it is being a black woman in the industry. I am no longer standing for it," she added.
"Putting out a podcast on racism and asking your black cast members to teach you how to tackle these issues is the bare minimum. THINK. DO BETTER.
"I hope Hollyoaks delivers the same energy when #BlackLivesMatter is no longer trending."
A Hollyoaks spokesperson told Digital Spy in response to Adedeji's post: "We are really concerned to read Rachel's comments on social media about Hollyoaks this evening. We will be in touch with Rachel directly."
Rachel's Hollyoaks family have come out in support for her. Jacqueline Boatswain, who plays Rachel's onscreen mum Simone Loveday, tweeted her support.
Karl Collins, who plays her dad Louis Loveday, posted: "Well..... it will come as no surprise that I love this woman who I affectionately call 'darta!' I am so proud of her bravery! #speakyourtruth @RachelASongs #noliestold #BlackLivesMatterUK"
An ex-writer for the soap – Matthew Jacobs Morgan – also weighed in on his own experiences while working on Hollyoaks in 2018.
In his tweet, Matthew claimed: "Working on HOLLYOAKS was so damaging. I was the only Black person on a writing / story staff of 60 and left after one episode after being treated terribly. Different to any of my colleagues. Wrote a complaint but they apologised to my agent rather than direct to me."
The Channel 4 soap announced the news of its new podcast on Twitter by posting a video of star Kelle Bryan, who plays Martine Deveraux, explaining why the show's social media platforms had gone silent for a day.
"As you may have noticed we here at Hollyoaks have been silent for the last 24 hours across all of our social media platforms," she said. "And that's in direct response to the horrendous atrocities that have taken place in the USA with the loss of George Floyd. Black lives really do matter."
Hollyoaks airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first-look episodes airing on E4 at 7pm. Wednesdays through Fridays on E4 will feature classic episodes called Hollyoaks Favourites to compensate for the soap suspending filming.
For more information on how you can support Black Lives Matter, please visit its official website or donate here. Readers can also donate to the UK anti-discrimination group Stand Up To Racism, and the Unite Families & Friends Campaign, which supports those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody.
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