Australia’s longest-running TV drama Neighbours has been plunged into scandal after a guest actor claimed a racist culture was running “rife” on set.
Wentworth star Shareena Clanton says her six-week stint on Ramsay Street in a guest role was marred by “multiple racist traumas” that have required ongoing counselling.
“It’s been lonely, triggering and traumatising to work in such a culturally unsafe space,” she wrote on Instagram, adding she would never work for the Network Ten show again.
Within the social media post, the 30-year-old Perth-born actor listed multiple allegations of racist and inappropriate behaviour by senior Neighbours staff and fellow cast members.
Clanton says she fired her agent when he described a senior staff member’s alleged use of the term “slave driver” – in reference to him working hard – as “office banter”.
She also claims the set was “rife” with covert levels of racism, citing a white actor openly calling another actor of colour a “lil’ monkey” as an alleged example.
Clanton says she heard a highly racial slur uttered twice on set and in the green room, and was told to “go somewhere else” when she confronted the actor directly.
In another instance, an actor is accused of openly laughing when the same racist term was used – a claim Clanton said the woman denied when questioned by human resources.
“She said that I ‘misconstrued’ what she was ‘laughing at’ and that she was laughing at ‘something else’. That is a blatant lie,” Clanton wrote.
“The retaliation for calling out this misconduct and racism often left me ostracised and further marginalised.”
Other claims included Clanton paying out of her own pocket to have a Wurundjeri Elder on set for “cultural safety reasons”, and a department head laughing when a cast member used a highly sexualised term.
A Fremantle Media spokesperson said the Network Ten soap, now into its 35th year, “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,” a statement said.
“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.”