Two Indigenous actors, Shareena Clanton and Meyne Wyatt, have detailed instances of racism they allegedly experienced while working on the set of Neighbours. Fremantle, the production company behind the long-running Australian soap opera, says it will investigate the allegations and has called for an independent review of the show.
Clanton, a Wongatha-Yamatji and Noongar-Gitja woman, features in a guest role in an upcoming episode of the series. In an Instagram post shared earlier this week (April 6), she claimed she experienced “multiple racist traumas” while on set, months which she says were “rife” with racist and otherwise inappropriate moments.
“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,'” Clanton wrote.
“A senior staff member openly laughed whilst using the term ‘slave driver’ in reference to him ‘working hard’… 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’.”
Elsewhere, Clanton claimed the production team refused to engage a Wurundjeri Elder “to be included for ongoing cultural safety reasons like cultural protocols followed and debriefing” due to a lack of funds. Clanton says she ended up paying the Elder from her own income.
When Clanton says she reported these incidences to human resources, staff allegedly replied by saying they were unsure of “what else they could do”.
Clanton did not name specific actors or team members in the Instagram post “to avoid any lawsuit by the production or a potential defamation case”. She concludes by saying “I’ll never work for this show again”. Read the full post below.
Responding to Clanton’s claims, Neighbours production company Fremantle said in a statement to news.com.au that the show “strives to be a platform for diversity and inclusion on-screen and off-screen”.
“Our quest is always to continue to grow and develop in this area and we acknowledge that this is an evolving process.
“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.”
In a follow-up post, Clanton described Fremantle’s statement as a “non-response” that “held no accountability/action/remorse/reform”. She also shared a swathe of racist comments she received upon going public with the allegations.
“I have no qualms critiquing such power structures. What do I have to gain here by speaking truth to one of the most powerful and multi-million dollar global production houses like Fremantle Media? I’m the one at risk of being blacklisted,” Clanton said.
After sharing her initial post, Meyne Wyatt, who was a series regular on the show between 2014 and 2016, also said in a social media post on April 6 that he had experienced racism while on set.
“It involved the C word and I called that shit out and it didn’t happen around me again. Though, I did walk in on this incident in particular, so I have no doubt things were being said behind my back. I have too much experience to believe otherwise,” wrote Wyatt, who played Nate Kinski.
“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 claimed that on the set of Neighbours homophobia was “fucking rampant”, “ma[king] for a very unsafe environment for anyone in the LGBTQIA+ communities”.
He also pointed out the overall lack of Indigenous representation on Australian primetime television, noting that he was the first Indigenous actor to be part of Neighbours’ cast in its 30 years of airing.
“I don’t see a lot of Indigenous actors on the show or on any prime time Television series, whether it be Neighbours, Home and Away, anything on Channel 7, 9 or Ten for that matter. Stan and Netflix take note!” he said.
“But these attitudes are prevalent throughout the industry. And we are fucken 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.” Read Wyatt’s full post below:
In a statement published today (April 8) in The West Australian, CEO of Fremantle Asia Pacific Chris Oliver-Taylor said they would be investigating the allegations.
“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,” the statement read.
“We do not tolerate behaviour that does not align to our Anti-Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Harassment & Bullying Policy and take all complaints very seriously, investigating all allegations fairly and thoroughly.
“We have asked Campfire X, creative leaders in Indigenous Cultural Protocols, to conduct an independent review of Neighbours and the production process.”
Network 10 also said it would work with Fremantle to “investigate and ensure Neighbours continues to foster a fully inclusive environment”.