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Lime Pictures launches investigation after Hollyoaks racism claims

Adedeji

Liverpool’s Lime Pictures has launched an investigation after actress Rachel Adedeji raised questions about the treatment of black cast members on the set of Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks.

Adedeji, who has appeared in more than 200 episodes of Hollyoaks, tweeted a statement (below) saying “I am disappointed with Hollyoaks’ approach to showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement yesterday. She listed a number of racist incidents she had experienced on the show.

In her statement, she claimed she was told “you’re all the same” by a make-up artist and that black cast members were referred to as “blackies” by a senior member of the production team.

Adedeji claimed that black actresses were “forced to drastically change their hair” for fear that viewers “would not be able to tell them apart.” She also said she had only worked with one black director during four years on the show.

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“Working at Hollyoaks is mostly positive, but the experiences I have encountered are a constant reminder of how difficult it is being a black woman in the industry,” she said. “I am no longer standing for it. Putting out a podcast on racism and asking your black members to teach you how to tackle racism is the bare minimum. THINK. DO BETTER.”

Her comments led the show to launch an investigation, but bosses were forced to issue a further statement after former Hollyoaks writer Claire Hanrahan made further accusations of racism.

Writing on Instagram, Hanrahan said: “I debated whether to share this or not, because I know now is not the time for white voices and opinions.

“I asked myself whether it was performative. Let me be clear that what I’m sharing is in no way deserving of a pat on the back. I did the wrong thing, and I have zero to lose here, unlike @racheladedeji or Matthew.

“And yet I‘m still scared, because looking at the racist structures that reside within me, and all the ways I benefit from white supremacy, has been sickening and ugly. I personally witnessed racism during my time at Hollyoaks, and saw it cost a talented director her job.

“I decided I was leaving around that time, and that I would write a letter to the head of Lime Pictures about it (along with a whole lot of other bs that went down there) once I’d left.

“The director asked me to speak up with her at the time, but I said I felt more comfortable sending a letter in a few weeks, once I was out of there. I can make a lot of excuses as to why I did this – I was scared, I didn’t want to make it awkward for myself to be there, I didn’t want to get fired, I was pregnant, I had been bullied there and it didn’t feel safe etc etc etc.

“I didn’t see how wrong it was to centre my own comfort in that situation. I didn’t see that it was a privilege to make the choice to stay silent while a POC lost their job and was asking me to stand with them. I didn’t see how I was using racism to make my own case, instead of honouring the needs of the person being victimised.

“I’m hoping it’s not too late to do the right thing. I’ve been back in touch with the head of Lime Pictures, following up on my letter and demanding more than token apologies and unfulfilled promises. Systemic change is needed – a podcast is not going to cut it @hollyoaksofficial.

“For any other white folks who have witnessed racism in the workplace, I urge you to speak up.”

In response, the soap said in a statement, issued to Digital Spy, that: “Lime pictures has a zero tolerance approach to racism. Claire Hanrahan was employed in the script and story department at Hollyoaks from between 2016 and 2017. Shortly after leaving Lime’s employment, Claire sent a formal complaint to the producers in December 2017.

“A full and thorough investigation was undertaken at the time and a detailed response to Claire’s complaint was given in January 2018 and she was invited to provide more information about her complaint.

“No further correspondence was received from Claire until this week. In line with our commitment to do the right thing we will review this matter.”

Others supported Adedeji, with former Hollyoaks actress Amanda Clapham saying she witnessed “microaggressions” on-set, including black cast members being “disproportionately told off” for talking and messing around during filming.

She also published an open letter she had sent to the senior members of staff at Hollyoaks in support of Black Lives Matter, friends and colleagues.

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