Bermuda Post

Tuesday, Oct 27, 2020

UK's Hollyoaks star Talia Grant says black people treated as 'disposable' on TV

Hollyoaks actress Talia Grant has spoken about how the TV industry, "like life in general", treats black people as being "disposable".

She told the soap's Don't Filter Your Feelings podcast that the media "can capitalise off of us without actually doing the real work behind the scenes".

Grant, 18, was discussing racism alongside co-stars Trevor A Toussaint and Richard Blackwood.

It comes a month after Rachel Adedeji said she witnessed racism on the soap.

Grant, who plays Brooke on the Channel 4 soap, told the podcast: "It's amazing that there is a black cast, and there's all of us, and there is that diversity.

"But I can't help but feel that sometimes in the industry, and in life in general, they treat black people like we're disposable."

She said she had "dealt with difficult situations and micro aggressions" on the soap.

The actress added: "It's great for us to be in a high up position, but we're still going to experience it.

"The revolution will not be changed by diversity training, or racism training. It is changed by people changing their attitude and the way that the structural system works."

Toussaint, who plays Walter, pointed out that there were no senior black staff on the Liverpool set of the soap, which is made by Lime Pictures.

The actor said: "There's racism in society... TV is no exception to this. There is not one person of colour... who has a position of authority within Lime Pictures. Why is that?

"I think I've seen two black directors in all the time I've been there and definitely no black producers. Why?"

Lime Pictures said Toussaint's comments did not apply to its London operation, but acknowledged it needed to do better.

"Hollyoaks celebrates inclusivity on screen and off," a statement said. "Whilst we believe that is evident on screen, we recognise that we need to do more to increase and support inclusivity behind the camera, especially for black writers, directors and crew.

"We have significantly increased the number of writers of colour working on Hollyoaks, but we need to do more to support black writers in particular."


'Extremely grateful'


The company said it had various initiatives in place to increase diversity, including a new writing award and internships.

Grant also said she was "extremely grateful" for the way the soap had dealt with her autism.

"They really made an effort, they all went on training, I felt just accepted and understood. People didn't view me as the problem," she said.

The trio also discussed racism and micro-aggressions beyond the broadcasting industry.


'I'm not scared of losing my job'


Recounting a recurring experience, Toussaint said: "I'm sitting on the Tube and it's a white person and they look around and there's only one seat left and it's the seat next to me and they will look directly at me and they choose to stand.

"If you say to a white person, 'That is a micro aggression', they will discount it because they haven't lived through that time and time and time again.

"Even at this point in my life, someone will say to me, 'You're really eloquent, aren't you?' And then there's a pause."

Toussaint also said: "I have lost jobs because I've spoken out and I'm not scared of losing my job. I have been vilified because I've spoken out about racism within companies. I've been beaten up because I've spoken out, I've been arrested because I've spoken out."

The podcast was the first in a series of special episodes in which Hollyoaks cast members will discuss racism and their personal experiences in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.

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