'Neighbours' actor Shareena Clanton alleges racism on set
Australian soap Neighbours has been accused of "silent complicity" in on-set racism after an actor's complaints were dismissed.
Wentworth star Shareen Clanton played a guest role on the long-running show in January and February this year.
She alleges that production company Fremantle introduced segregated green rooms to separate the fractious members of cast and crew after she formally complained to HR about racist behaviour.
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Clanton told The Guardian Australia: "There was a lot of commentary that was highly inflammatory, sexist, misogynistic, crass and crude – the kind of comments that if I were to make in any other workspace would absolutely [result in] instant dismissal.
“But somehow people just continued to get a gentle word spoken to them, or have a polite side word between [the alleged perpetrator] and the person who was offended by what was being said.”
The Perth-born actor – who is of Indigenous Australian descent – claimed she objected when a cast member used the "n-word", but that another colleague defended them, arguing the word was commonly used in popular culture.
Clanton said: “A staff member then turned to me and told me that I needed to take it somewhere else, because I was making other people uncomfortable."
The actor said that after the alleged cast member used the racist term again after they were spoken to, they were temporarily removed from the set and ordered to attend cultural training. It is not known if this training was in-house or run by an independent body.
Clanton said she felt that speaking publicly about the issue was likely to have a negative impact on her career.
She added: “But I think for me, it is not unreasonable to speak about these individual experiences, because they form part of a collective of toxic work environments.
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“It’s no longer [about] protecting individuals or a workplace environment or a production house that has various levels of complicity and [continues to allow] unhealthy, toxic workplace conduct that would just not be tolerated anywhere outside the film industry.”
Fremantle said in a statement: “Our quest is always to continue to grow and develop in this area and we acknowledge that this is an evolving process.
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“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.”
Former Neighbours star Meyne Wyatt – who played Nate Kinski in the soap – has now also spoken out on Twitter to allege that he witnessed racism and homophobia on set.
He said: "I was a series regular on Neighbours between 2014 to 2016 and I experienced Racism on set. It involved the C word and I called it out and it didn’t happen around me again. Though I did walk in on this incident? so I have no doubt things were being said behind my back.
"It saves time from me calling you a racist and humiliating you, if you don’t do s*** the first place! And on top of that, the Homophobia that was present whilst I was on Neighbours, was f***ing rampant! The comments and jokes and innuendos were ridiculous!
"It made for a very unsafe environment for anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community and the shit needs to be stamped out. Racism and Homophobia needs an active and present force behind it to be driven out! Neighbours do better! The Film and TV Industry do better! Australia do better!"
Neighbours – which airs on Channel 5 in the UK – has been running for 35 years.
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