'Heroes' Actor Recounts Racism On Set In Open Letter
Written by BET on December 16, 2020
Hollywood has lengthy been a hostile place for Black actors, a development that has solely lately began to shift. However for Leonard Roberts, who starred within the first season of the 2006 hit collection Heroes, expertise with racism on set almost sidelined his profession.
In a visitor essay for Selection, the actor opened up about being fired from the collection after his fundamental co-star, Ali Larter, purportedly made it clear she did not wish to work with him, regardless of Roberts all the time sustaining knowledgeable perspective throughout their interactions. He additionally revealed that his character was described within the script as a “white man’s nightmare,” and was topic to racist tropes and stereotypes. His requests to collaborate with writers on the present — which is business commonplace for collection common actors on a tv present — went unanswered.
The a part of Roberts’ story making probably the most noise on social media entails his co-star Ali Larter throwing a tantrum when requested to do an intimate scene with Roberts — a response that was fairly the alternative as when the state of affairs concerned her romancing a white man.
[My character] D.L. Hawkins was in an interracial marriage with Niki Sanders, a white lady performed by Ali Larter. The script prompt D.L. and Niki had a unstable relationship — and it wasn’t lengthy earlier than artwork was imitating life, with me on the receiving finish of pushback from my co-star concerning the taking part in of a very tense scene. Coming from theater, I used to be aware of passions working excessive within the technique of bringing characters to life, so I later gave her a bottle of wine with a notice affirming what I believed to be mutual respect and a shared dedication to doing distinctive work. Neither the present nor the notice was ever acknowledged.
On one other event, throughout the staging of a bed room scene, my co-star took umbrage with the extent of intimacy being prompt between our characters. In a non-public rehearsal, Greg Beeman, our director, requested if she was prepared to decrease the straps of the highest she was sporting and expose her naked shoulders solely above the sheet that coated her, with a purpose to give the visible impression she was in the identical state of undress as me, as I used to be shirtless. My co-star refused Beeman’s request, and I used to be immediately conscious of the stress on the set. I bear in mind instinctively checking to verify each my fingers had been seen to everybody who was there, as to not have my intentions or actions misconstrued. Regardless of Beeman’s clear description of what he was on the lookout for visually, my co-star insisted she was, certainly, being requested to take away her prime utterly, and rehearsal was reduce. She then demanded a gathering with Beeman and the producers who had been on set and proceeded to have an intense and loud dialog wherein she expressed she had by no means been so disrespected — as an actress, a lady or a human being.
Whereas that was my first episode, my co-star had been engaged on “Heroes” for over a month, and she or he’d shot one other scene that known as for Niki to seduce Nathan Petrelli, performed by Adrian Pasdar. After watching the episode, I requested Pasdar if there had been any considerations just like what I witnessed throughout my episode. He replied on the contrary, and talked about her openness to collaboration and even improvisation. I contemplated why my co-star had exuberantly performed a special scene with the Petrelli character involving overt sexuality whereas sporting lingerie, however discovered points of 1 involving love and intimacy expressed by means of dialogue with my character, her husband, disrespectful to her core. I couldn’t assist questioning whether or not race was an element.
Roberts goes on to explain the fallout from his tense relationship with Larter, which finally resulted in him being written off the present earlier than the top of the primary season. “Don’t consider this as a state of affairs the place the Black man loses and the white lady wins,” a producer on the present informed him, although by all accounts, that is precisely what occurred. The gaslighting continued when, based on Roberts, one in all his castmates requested, “Can you actually say you misplaced your job since you’re Black? C’mon, man. They’re gonna all the time preserve the new blonde on the present. That’s simply Hollywood.”
Learn Roberts’ full account of his expertise on Heroes here.
Picture: Matthew Simmons/Getty Photographs