Jonathan Van Ness, Angelica Ross and Elliot Page. (Getty)
Angelica Ross, Elliot Page, Dan Levy, Wanda Sykes and many others have shown solidarity with Netflix staff who staged a walkout over the streamer’s handing of the latest Dave Chappelle controversy.
Netflix employees walked out of the streaming giant’s offices in Los Angeles on Wednesday (20 October) following weeks of controversy surrounding Chappelle’s latest comedy special The Closer.
In his stand-up routine, Chappelle joked about trans women’s genitals, defended DaBaby and JK Rowling and declared himself on “Team TERF”.
The backlash intensified when disappointed trans staff raised concerns only to be told that on-screen content doesn’t “translate to real-world harm” by Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos. He has since conceded that “storytelling has real impact in the real world”, but refused to define Chappelle’s anti-trans jokes as hate speech.
Elliot Page stands with trans Netflix staff fighting for ‘a more inclusive workplace’
Countless high-profile LGBT+ stars shared their support for Netflix staff involved in the walkout on Wednesday. Elliot Page, who stars in Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, tweeted his support for trans employees.
“I stand with the trans, nonbinary and BIPOC employees at Netflix fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace,” Page wrote. He also linked to a YouTube video which featured Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness, Pose actor Angelica Ross and many others voicing their support for employees taking part in the walkout.
In the video, compiled by protest organiser Ashlee Marie Preston, Ross said that she is “tired”, adding that it has been “quite a couple of years”.
“I know many of you are feeling the fatigue that I’m feeling of being involved in a movement where we learn tools to move forward but not everybody is on the same page, not everybody has the same tools of accountability,” she said.
Jonathan Van Ness said: “Netflix trans, non-binary and intersex family, I love you so much, I am sending you so much love and solidarity and just sending you so much gratitude for the work you continually do, the work that folks see, the work that folks don’t see, to create a world that is more equitable and fair, to ultimately achieve LGBTQ liberation,”
“It really is so often the trans, non-binary and intersex folks who actually advance these conversations so often at risk to themselves and their careers.”
Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy issued a powerful statement of support on Twitter. “I stand with every employee at Netflix using their voice to ensure a safe and supportive work environment,” he wrote.
“I’ve seen first hand how vital television can be when it comes to influencing the cultural conversation. That impact is real and works both ways: positively AND negatively. Transphobia is unacceptable and harmful. That isn’t a debate.”
— dan levy (@danjlevy) October 20, 2021
Wanda Sykes, who most recently starred in The Other Two, told her followers that she stands in solidarity with all Netflix staff who were standing up for their own rights and dignity.
“Standing in solidarity with the Netflix employees speaking truth to power today and sending my full love and support,” the actress and comedian wrote.
— Wanda Sykes (@iamwandasykes) October 20, 2021
Mae Martin, the star and creator behind Netflix comedy Feel Good, stated their support for staff on Instagram.
“Standing with Netflix employees using their voice today to start an important conversation,” Martin wrote. “I don’t think it’s very difficult to be funny without ridiculing marginalised groups and contributing to a culture of transphobia that directly results in disproportionate levels of violence, suicide, and discrimination.”
They continued: “As a trans/non-binary person who works with Netflix this has been a true bummer, but I’m hopeful for positive and thoughtful reflection moving forward. And lols, am I right? Remember lols?”
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Speaking at the demonstration outside Netflix headquarters, Ashlee Marie Preston said trans people are “up against the emergence of a hate economy”.
“And there is this manipulation of algorithmic science that distorts the way that we perceive ourselves and others,” Preston said. “And I think that companies like Netflix, Facebook and Instagram, they play into it, and they monetise on it. And so I think that this is important to show up today.”
The controversy has continued to escalate ever since The Closer debuted on Netflix on 5 October. One trans employee, Terra Field, has said she is not calling for the comedy special to be removed – instead, she wants Netflix to “stop pretending transphobia in media has no effect on society”.