Two Aboriginal actors have spoken out about racism they experienced whilst on set for Network 10 TV show, Neighbours.
Coming forward on Tuesday, staunch Wongatha, Yamatji, Noongar, Gitja actress Shereena Clanton posted via Instagram addressing her time 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,” the actress wrote.
She referred to multiple instances in which she was subject to racism and sexism by cast and staff.
Clanton identified several incidents, including a time in which the Head of Department laughed at the phrase “cum slut”, a senior staff member described his work ethic using the term “slave driver” and laughing, and paying to engage a Wurundjeri Elder for cultural safety and protocol from her own payslip after being told Neighbours “simply don’t have the budget”.
Clanton said that overt and covert levels of racism were rife and were often disguised as jokes.
“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’,” she said.
“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.”
Clanton said she suffered further isolation after calling out racism and misconduct, and was told by Human Resources that they were uncertain of “what else they could do”.
“I’ll never work for this show again,” Clanton wrote, ending the post.
View this post on Instagram
Standing with Clanton, Wongutha-Yamatji actor and writer Meyne Wyatt came forward about his own experiences of racism whilst appearing on Neighbours between 2014 and 2016.
“I was a series regular on Neighbours between 2014 to 2016 and I experienced racism on set. It involved calling out 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,” Wyatt posted via Instagram and Twitter.
“I have too much experience to believe otherwise.
“And it is disappointing but not at all surprising to hear that five years later racism continues to be present in that workplace. But what can you say, we are in Australia.”
Wyatt also noted he was the first Indigenous actor to be on the main cast when Neighbours celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2015. Previous to his role, Tony Briggs and Aunty Justine Saunders had made appearances, however, were not regulars.
He acknowledged the lack of Indigenous actors present on prime time television, saying racist attitudes are prevalent within the industry.
“And we are f*cken tired of calling this shit out. Individuals, actors, cast and crews! To the production companies, to the networks! Do better, be better. You can always do better. The work is not finished. Even when you think you have, just know you haven’t. Because you haven’t,” he wrote.
“It saves time from me calling you a racist and humiliating you, if you don’t do shit the first place! And on top of that, the homophobia that was present whilst I was on Neighbours, was f*cking 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!”
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.
— Meyne Wyatt (@meynewyatt) April 6, 2021
Clanton has spoken out a day after her original post about the racial abuse she has experienced since coming forward.
The actress posted a compilation of screenshots which contained racist comments left on her original post.
“Calling out racism exposes MORE racism and racist trauma in Australia,” she wrote.
Clanton said there has been no response from Fremantle Media, she reinforced that both herself and Wyatt were not alleging racism, rather these instances did occur and that she will continue to question power structures that perpetuate racism.
“There are many horror stories from other First Nations people and under-represented communities about what they experience on set and in the story rooms. Believe them,” she wrote.
“I stand by my truth and what I said I bore witness to and directly endured.”
View this post on Instagram
By Rachael Knowles