Crazy Rich Asians actor reveals he was subjected to racist backlash
Crazy Rich Asians star reveals he was subjected to horrific racist backlash after landing a role on Neighbours – as more actors come forward with shocking allegations against the soap
- Remy Hii has broken his silence on the racist backlash he was subjected to
- Hii copped racial backlash from viewers after landing the role of Hudson Walsh
- The 35-year-old appeared in more than 50 episodes of the hit soap in 2013/2014
- Hii didn’t speak out at the time because he didn’t want to jeopardise his career
- Hii said he is curious to see what comes out of Fremantle Media’s investigation
- Several Neighbours actors have claimed they were subjected to racism on set
Crazy Rich Asians star Remy Hii has broken his silence on the horrific racist backlash he was subjected to after starring on Neighbours
Crazy Rich Asians star Remy Hii has broken his silence on the horrific racist backlash he was subjected to after starring on Neighbours.
The Channel 10 soap has been under intense scrutiny over the past month after a slew of actors went public with claims they were subjected to racism on set.
Former cast members Shareena Clanton, Sharon Johal, Sachin Joab and Nicola Charles have spoken out against the long-running program in recent weeks.
Hii, who played Alistair Cheng in the 2018 romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, is the latest star to come forward with racism claims.
The 35-year-old, who has Chinese-Malaysian and British heritage but lived in Australia from the age of eight, said he copped racial backlash from viewers after landing a role on Neighbours back in 2013.
‘Of course it weighed on me at the time and it felt pretty bad,’ Hii told ABC’s 7.30 Report on Monday night.
‘But it’s sad to note that this is the lived experience of pretty much any person of colour, any immigrant, Indigenous or First Nation, or anyone with a different background, is that at some point in your life you’re made to feel like you don’t belong.’
Hii, who appeared in more than 50 episodes of the hit soap in 2013 and 2014, said he didn’t speak out at the time because he didn’t want to risk jeopardising his budding career.
‘At the time I didn’t, and I’ve questioned myself about that, and I’ve often asked myself why. And the really simple answer was at the time I didn’t want to be seen as rocking the boat,’ he said.
Remy Hii (right), who has Chinese-Malaysian and British heritage, said he copped racial backlash from viewers after landing a role on Neighbours back in 2013
Hii, who has worked extensively in America, said ‘heads would be rolling’ if similar claims came to light in the US
Hii, who starred in Crazy Rich Asians, said he didn’t speak out at the time because he didn’t want to risk jeopardising his budding career
Fremantle Media, the production company for Neighbours, last week appointed lawyers to investigate the show amid the string of recent scandals.
Hii said he is curious to see what comes out of Fremantle Media’s investigation, and supports calls for a ‘systemic overhaul’ of the program.
‘I think that it’s really important that we listen to the findings of the independent review. It’s a positive move, but I’m very curious to see what comes out of it,’ he said.
‘Something isn’t working behind the scenes. It’s not an isolated incident. It’s not just Shareena. There have been many other actors who are coming out of that set saying that, ‘On this occasion I didn’t feel safe, on this occasion I felt marginalised,’ and the resounding theme is that people are not being listened to.
‘It’s not just a TV show, it’s a workplace where you have the right to feel safe.’
Hii, who has worked extensively in America, told The Guardian that ‘heads would be rolling’ if similar claims came to light in the US.
‘You’re talking about a ‘burn the institution down’ kind of reaction, there is no way anyone would be able to get away with it,’ he said.
‘It’s actually crazy seeing the kind of general public response … people who have tried to sweep it under the rug go like, ‘it’s not that big a deal, get over it’. If this happened in America, the repercussions would be swift and they would be severe.’
Hii said Australians need to acknowledge that racism and prejudice still exists in the film industry and needs to be ‘called out’ without ostracising victims.
Former Neighbours star Menik Gooneratne said she faced ‘ferocious’ backlash from viewers over her Sri Lankan heritage
Gooneratne (centre) said the Neighbours social media channels were bombarded with racist comments, but management refused to remove them
‘It’s a really terrifying thing to do to speak your truth to power, because of that fear of a backlash or you might be blacklisted or labelled difficult and end up losing work because of it,’ he said.
Former Neighbours star Menik Gooneratne said she faced ‘ferocious’ backlash from viewers over her Sri Lankan heritage.
‘To receive that kind of reaction to our casting, it cut deep, and it cut deeper than I would have liked it to. I wish I was stronger, I wish I could have been incensed by the whole thing, but really I was just hurt,’ she said.
Gooneratne claimed the Neighbours social media channels were bombarded with racist comments, but management refused to remove them.
‘Apart from the expression of, ‘Oh, I’m sorry that that’s happened,’ and you know, ‘Are you OK?’, which they kind of checked in at the start, but because it was a continued thing it just wasn’t spoken about. We didn’t talk about it, we just moved on,’ she said.
‘I didn’t feel supported at all. I felt like we were left to deal with all of that on our own, to process that and to handle our reactions and our hurt and our trauma on our own.’
Gooneratne told 7.30 that Neighbours has strived for diversity in front of the camera, however ‘that’s only the first step’.
‘You have to look at your writer’s room, directors, heads of department, executive producers, HR, PR. The more diversity you have behind the camera, the less of these incidents you have,’ she said.
It comes after two Indigenous Australians claimed they had witnessed racist incidents while working on the set of Neighbours.
Shareena Clanton, 30, alleged producers fostered a toxic workplace environment and claimed the show was a ‘culturally unsafe space’ in a bombshell Instagram post.
Among several complaints, Clanton accused a staff member of making crude remarks and claimed she heard the N-word used on set twice, prompting production company Fremantle to bring in an Indigenous consultancy firm to carry out a review.
‘I’m 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,’ she wrote on Instagram earlier this month.
‘It’s been lonely, triggering and traumatising to work in such a culturally unsafe space.’
Shareena Clanton, 30, alleged producers fostered a toxic workplace environment and claimed the show was a ‘culturally unsafe space’ in a bombshell Instagram post
While she didn’t name specific staff members, Clanton listed several ‘racist’ and problematic incidents she apparently witnessed during filming
Clanton accused a staff member of making crude remarks and claimed she heard the N-word used on set twice
While she didn’t name specific staff members, Clanton – who has Aboriginal and African American heritage – listed several ‘racist’ and problematic incidents she apparently witnessed during filming.
She claimed: ‘A [staff member] thought it funny and appropriate to openly laugh at the word ‘cum slut’ by a cast member who loudly spoke about ‘cum’, ‘cum’, ‘cum’ in front of other cast and crew.
She continued: ‘A senior staff member openly laughed whilst using the term ‘slave driver’ in reference to him ‘working hard’. My management at the time didn’t help as they endorsed/encouraged this ‘office banter’. I fired the agent.
‘Overt and covert levels of racism were rife, often disguised as ‘jokes’, like a white actress openly calling another actress of colour a ‘lil’ monkey’.’
‘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’.’
A day later, former Neighbours cast member Meyne Wyatt alleged that he had also experienced racism on set in a tweet.
Actress Sharon Johal, a Punjabi Sikh Australian, also released a statement about her ‘painful’ four years on Neighbours, which included racial slurs, mocking comments and a colleague calling her a ‘c**t’ after she confronted them over an offensive remark.
Johal said a cast member ‘referred to me as ‘the black one’ and/or ‘blackie’ behind my back in the presence of other crew members’.
Actress Sharon Johal released a statement about her ‘painful’ four years on Neighbours, which included racial slurs, mocking comments and a colleague calling her a ‘c**t’
Johal said a cast member ‘referred to me as ‘the black one’ and/or ‘blackie’ behind my back in the presence of other crew members’
Johal, a Punjabi Sikh Australian, also claimed a now-former cast member ‘repeatedly mimicked the Indian character Apu from The Simpsons
She also claimed a now-former cast member ‘repeatedly mimicked the Indian character Apu from The Simpsons with accompanying Indian accent and movement of head in my presence, despite me requesting they desist’.
In a statement, Fremantle’s Asia Pacific CEO Chris Oliver-Taylor said ‘all complaints are taken seriously and we are investigating all allegations fairly’.
‘Fremantle is committed to providing an environment where employees and others in the workplace are treated fairly and with respect, and are free from unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and bullying,’ Mr Oliver-Taylor said.
‘We do not tolerate behaviour that does not align to our Anti-Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Harassment and Bullying Policy and take all complaints very seriously, investigating all allegations fairly and thoroughly.’
Actress Nicola Charles came forward last week claiming her former Neighbours castmates once tried to get her kicked out of Australia.
The 51-year-old British soap star, who played Sarah Beaumont from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2013 to 2016, alleges that before trying to get her deported, the cast also openly victimised her for being a former model, rather than a serious actor.
‘They would say under their breath, ‘fu**ing MTA’ behind my back and as I walked past after scenes,’ she told News Corp last week.
‘For a long time I didn’t know what ‘MTA’ meant … finally I found out it was ‘model turned actor’.
‘That’s when I started thinking, ‘OK, they don’t see me a real actor even though I did go to drama school in the UK,’ she continued.
Charles has also alleged that her Neighbours castmates tried to get her deported from Australia.
She claims in her autobiography Soap Star, which is set to be released on Friday, that she found a handwritten letter sent to the immigration department shortly after her six-month probation ended in 1996.
While she didn’t identify the cast members in question, Charles was stunned anybody would go to such lengths to make her lose her job.
Speaking out: Nicola alleges in her autobiography Soap Star, which is set to be released on Friday, she found a handwritten letter sent to the Australian immigration department in 1996
Allegations: Nicola has claimed that her castmates tried to get her deported back to Britain because she was ‘taking a job from an Australian’. Pictured: Nicola Charles and Alan Fletcher on the set of Neighbours
‘I did know who they were, the individuals who did it, but I thought – who goes to that length, and what have I done to be disliked that much?’ she wrote, in an excerpt published by the Herald Sun.
‘That experience coloured my relationships with everyone on the cast and crew, because I kind of felt nervous about trusting anyone after that.’
Charles claims she learned during a meeting with a producer that there was some ‘resistance’ to her involvement among certain cast members.
Her own immigration lawyer apparently later confirmed a complaint from two Neighbours actors had been made because a British actor was given a full-time role on the show, thereby ‘taking a job away from an Australian performer’.
But Charles said this didn’t make sense because her character was British, adding: ‘I did not take a role from a local actor because there was no role.’
Production company Fremantle appointed lawyers to investigate Neighbours amid shocking allegations of racism and abuse on the long-running show. Pictured Nicola Charles
Former Neighbours star Nicola Charles recently alleged that the cast of the soap sneered at her for weeks before trying to get her kicked out of the country in the late nineties. Pictured: Nicola Charles on the Big Breakfast TV programme in 1997
In September last year, Charles revealed sordid details of what she claims went on behind the scenes of the long-running soap.
She told the Herald Sun that a producer on the show once offered to pay for her to get a breast enlargement, and also encouraged her to leak naked photos.
‘I was patted on the knee in a very condescending way and told you can always leak photos of yourself after you wrap with the show to boost your image,’ she said.
‘It’s from days of old that one, naked photos leaked online. This is the same Neighbours’ producer who said to me, ‘Would you like me to buy you a set of t**s?’
‘I said no thank you, I plan on breast feeding. He said, ‘It’s fine, I’ve done it for all the other girls,’ and I said, ‘Really, I’m okay, thank you.”
She refused to name the producer, explaining he has since died.
Charles said the culture of the show appears to have since changed for the better, and praised the series for including storylines involving gay people and minorities.
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