Jeremy Tardy, who has been recurring on Netflix’s Dear White People, revealed in a Facebook post Friday that he will not be returning for the Lionsgate TV-produced series’ upcoming fourth and final season “due to my experience with Lionsgate and their practices of racial discrimination.” In response, Lionsgate called the standoff that led to Tardy’s exit “a purely financial negotiation.”
In a lengthy post (you can read it below), Tardy chronicled the events that led to his departure, claiming that, Lionsgate made him an offer to return for several episodes but refused to consider a counteroffer. “This news was disturbing because one of my white colleagues — being a true ally — revealed that they too had received the same initial offer and had successfully negotiated a counter offer,” he wrote.
Tardy and six other recurring cast members then banded together and collectively passed on the initial offer in an effort to negotiate better deals as a group. But the strategy backfired when members of the bargaining unit made side deals with the studio “before the collective group received a fair and equitable negotiation process.”
As a result, Tardy was written off the series. He called out Lionsgate and Netflix over the move on a show whose focus is on racial injustice, questioning the companies’ support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“These companies have recently released statements and even donations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. I am calling out their shameful practices of discrimination and racial inequality with regard to how they have historically undervalued and lowballed people of color. Politically correct lip service and symbolic gestures do not absolve you of the daily responsibility of doing business in a fair and equitable manner,” he wrote, “The fact that this has occurred behind the scenes of a show which purports to address systemic issues of racism and discrimination displays the very epitome of hypocrisy. Lionsgate. Netflix. I see you. We see you.”
Lionsgate addressed Tardy’s accusations in a statement.
“This was a purely financial negotiation regarding deal terms,” the company told Deadline. “Lionsgate is committed to equal treatment for all talent regardless of race, gender, age or sexual orientation. We are very proud of Dear White People and its place in the national conversation about racial equality and social justice and we look forward to beginning production on its 4th season.”
Reps for Netflix deferred to producer Lionsgate on the matter.
According to sources close to the production, the budget for Season 4 was increased significantly, with a portion of the increase earmarked for recurring cast members who all were offered raises. Some of them accepted, others held out for more money, a standard negotiating tactic. All offers were reportedly approved by series creator Justin Simien, with the negotiating window closing when he had to start writing the final season. (Simien serves as EP/co-showrunner alongside Yvette Lee Bowser.)
Based on Simien’s acclaimed debut indie feature, Dear White People is set against the backdrop of a predominantly white Ivy League university where racial tensions bubble just below the surface. The satirical series — which picked up where the 2014 Sundance hit left off – follows a group of Winchester University’s students of color as they navigate a diverse landscape of social injustice, cultural bias, political correctness (or lack thereof) and activism in the millennial age.
Tardy played Kenyan student Rashid Bakr, a brainy young man who speaks five languages. He’s trying to discover what it means to be an African in America among African-Americans. Tardy appeared in 11 episodes of Dear White People‘s first three seasons, six in Season 1, two in Season 2 and three in Season 3.