Afton Williamson quit The Rookie after production on season two had begun on the ABC dramedy. Williamson left because of alleged inappropriate behavior and an investigation not being conducted in a timely manner. The Rookie follows a middle-aged man, John Nolan played by Nathan Fillion (Castle), as he joins the Los Angeles Police Department as the oldest recruit. Williamson played Talia Bishop, the training officer in charge of Nolan.
Williamson was asked to come back for the second season of ABC’s The Rookie, which is currently in production, but she turned down the offer. In a lengthy Instagram post on August 4th, Williamson explained she quit the show due to alleged racial bullying and sexual harassment that went ignored by higher-ups. Williamson said she faced racially charged comments from the head of the hair department. Williamson says the comments began while shooting the pilot episode and lasted throughout the entire season and culminated in a sexual assault at the season one wrap party. In her post, Williamson wrote, “The Sexual Harassment though reported directly to the Showrunner/EP remained undocumented and was not reported to HR as promised. Ciganovich was fired ONLY after the sexual assault and NOT for an entire year of outward racism/racially charged language and bullying behavior in and out of the Hair and Makeup trailer.” Williamson also mentioned in her post a guest star who she alleges sexually harassed her. Williamson did not want to work with the guest star, whom Williamson later identified as Demetrius Grosse, but claims she was written into scenes with him regardless of her claims. Williamson wrote, “After my initial report of sexual harassment, I was assured that Grosse would be fired. I was also asked to film with him the very next day as a courtesy to the script, even though we had not begun filming the episode yet. Grosse reappeared on our call sheet at the end of the season, I was even written in scenes with him. I asked the Showrunner about this and he admitted to me that the Grosse had not been fired nor had he gotten HR involved.” In regards to season two, Williamson said, “I was asked to return this season, and promised that ‘everything was handled.’ The investigation hadn’t even begun and Season 2 had already started filming. I turned it down and I walked.”
Williamson did not name the people she was accusing in her initial post on August 4th, however she later named them in a post on August 6th and updated her previous post to include the names of the former head of the hair department, Sally Nicole Ciganovich, and the guest star, Demetrius Grosse. Read both posts below.
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I will not be returning for Season 2 of The Rookie. I owe it to you my amazing fans to share the Truth. Throughout the filming of the pilot, I experienced Racial Discrimination/Racially Charged inappropriate comments from the hair department and bullying from Executive Producers. During the Season, it continued along with Sexual Harassment from a recurring guest star,Demetrius Grosse,and the racist commentary & bullying from the Hair Dept.Head, Sally Ciganovich escalated into Sexual Assault at our Wrap party.The Sexual Harassment though reported directly to the Showrunner/EP remained undocumented and was not reported to HR as promised.Ciganovich was fired ONLY after the sexual assault and NOT for an entire year of outward racism/racially charged language and bullying behavior in and out of the Hair and Makeup trailer. HR protocol was never adhered to following the above reports given by me to my Showrunner/EP and an investigation was never issued for any of my claims. The only time I was asked to participate in an investigation was after a meeting I called in June following our Season 2 announcement. This meeting included the Showrunner and two other producers as well as my agent and SAG-AFTRA Union Rep. It was clear to all present in the meeting that the Showrunner had not shared my reports with the any of the producers. After my initial report of sexual harassment, I was assured that Grosse would be fired. I was also asked to film with him the very next day as a courtesy to the script, even though we had not begun filming the episode yet. Grosse reappeared on our call sheet at the end of the season, I was even written in scenes with him. I asked the Showrunner about this and he admitted to me that the Grosse had not been fired nor had he gotten HR involved. I was asked to return this season, and promised that “everything was handled.” The investigation hadn’t even begun and Season 2 had already started filming. I turned it down and I walked. Now is the best time in the world to be a woman and I have a platform so it’s time to use my Voice. Strength comes from within. It comes from Above. “Greater is He that is within Me than he that is in the world” ❤️🙏🏽
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To my Fans, my Friends, my Supporters: I want to Thank EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU. I am so beyond overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, kind words, scriptures, strength filled quotes and devout support that has come my way. One Instagram post is just like those 2 fish and 5 loaves of Bread. The rippling effect it has had in just a few hours shows how much this world is aching with victims of racism, discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual abuse all of it. I am no stranger to all of the above even before this experience. But it is through this experience and my platform that God pushed me to use the power within me. It just takes a VOICE. I never imagined so many of us have experienced these horrible circumstances and that can NO LONGER GO UNHEARD. We have a voice. ALL OF US. It is our DUTY to use it. I used to fear the word Victim. I scoffed at it because all I was told when these injustices happened to me, was to Survive. Survivor I am. Victim I am also. A victim of injustice. A victim of assault. A victim of abuse and harassment. If you have experienced any of the above, you are too and I for one stand with you and I’m no longer afraid to be vocal about it. We Can Stand Together. Let’s Change This Sickness. That Change starts with US. This season on The Rookie, I was sexually harassed by fellow actor Demetrius Grosse. I was Racially Bullied and Discriminated against and Sexually Assaulted by Hair Department Head Sally Nicole Ciganovich. Let’s BE the CHANGE we WANT to SEE❤️👊🏾🙏🏾
The Rookie’s production studio, Entertainment One, is reportedly investigating Williamson’s claims. Entertainment One told People, “We take claims of this nature very seriously. We have initiated an independent investigation which is ongoing and as such, it would not be appropriate to comment at this time.”
An ABC Spokesperson said, “In late June, eOne made us aware and informed us that they launched an investigation that is ongoing. The safety of working environments is a top priority for us, and we take this matter very seriously.” Furthermore, ABC’s Network Entertainment President, Karen Burke, addressed the claims at TCA, “I am frustrated, I don’t have a lot of answers; I wish I had more. I heard at the end of June that there were allegations, and an investigation has been launched. We are waiting for answers. As soon as we learn more, we will make a determination based on what’s found.”
While the investigation is ongoing, it was recently revealed how Williamson’s character Talia will be written off. Talia’s departure will tie into her character’s season one storyline regarding her failure to disclose on her application to the police academy that her foster brother is a convicted felon. The Rookie showrunner, Alexi Hawley, explains “she was never going to get a fair shake at the LAPD. So ultimately she’s transferring over to a federal agency. There she can start with a clean slate and hopefully rocket to the top of the ladder.” Hawley also said, “Obviously, Talia was a huge part of our show and a great part of our show,” but Hawley teased that changing Nolan’s training officer, “gives us an opportunity to throw other obstacles in Nolan’s way.”