You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lena Waithe on Jason Mitchell Allegations: ‘I Wish I Would’ve Handled It Differently’

The Chi” creator Lena Waithe explained her response to the Jason Mitchell misconduct allegations in an interview on the radio show “The Breakfast Club” on Thursday.

Mitchell was fired from “The Chi” after harassment allegations from showrunner Ayanna Floyd Davis and co-star Tiffany Boone. The actor was also fired from the Netflix film “Desperados,” in addition to being dropped by all of his representation.

Waithe said in the interview that she knew of the allegations after filming had wrapped on season one of “The Chi” and took preemptive and corrective measures to handle the situation. She said there was extensive sexual harassment training on set and that she confronted the actor about the allegations. “There was definitely a conversation where I called him and got really real,” she said. “‘You need to be respectful of any woman on set. You need to be respectful of everybody,’ she said she told Mitchell. “‘Don’t treat any woman differently the way you would treat me.'” Waithe also claimed that Mitchell had never acted inappropriately towards her. 

To remedy the situation, Waithe brought on a black woman (Floyd Davis) as the season two showrunner. She assumed that this would lead to a “safer environment” on set. “I don’t regret making a black woman a showrunner. I do regret trusting her to handle it all by herself,” she said. Going forward, she wants to have a more hands on role in “The Chi.” She said, “Just cause you look like me, don’t mean you act like me.”

When pressed on the radio show why she didn’t intervene and fire the actor, Waithe claimed she didn’t possess that authority. “I don’t have the power to fire anyone. I don’t. I wish I did,” she said. “I don’t own “The Chi.” I created it. I sold it. I could be fired off “The Chi.” That’s real. People don’t understand that.”

According to Waithe, the involved parties resolved their issues with the HR department and agreed to return for season two, but the misconduct issues continued during the filming of the show’s sophomore season. “I get a call from Ayanna saying things are persisting but not a lot has changed in that area. She told me, ‘You can’t reach out to anybody. You’ve got to sit tight. HR has to handle this.'”

Waithe said her biggest regret was stepping back as HR handled the situation. “I wish I had reached out to Tiffany on my own,” she said. “As a black woman we got to reach out to each other and get rid of the middle man.”

She responded to criticisms of her handling of the situation. “For anyone to say I would stand by while a woman is being mistreated or harassed and not doing anything is just not true, it’s not who I am,” she said. “I was trying to put people in power to change, but ultimately that wasn’t the answer, I’m always the answer and that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned in all of this.”

And she owned up to shortcomings in how she dealt with the situation. “What I want to do is own that I wish I would’ve handled the situation differently, and I wish I would’ve done more. What I want to do is own my part in it,” she said.

The Chicago based ensemble show will continue without Mitchell and Boone for a third season. “Chicago is bigger than one person, bigger than two people,” said Waithe. “[Boone] has an open door to come to set, Jason does not.”

Listen to the entire interview here.

More TV

  • Matt Lauer Kurt Sutter

    From Sutter to Lauer, Hollywood Sees a Flurry of Letters From the Edge (Column)

    Let’s talk about the whacked-out letters that hit the media sphere in the past eight days. One was that bizarre mea culpa dropped Oct. 17 by the no-holds-barred showrunner Kurt Sutter in response to getting canned from his series “Mayans MC.” No stranger to complaints of unprofessional behavior on his sets over the years, Sutter [...]

  • Lisa Ling attends the 2018 Baby2Baby

    Lisa Ling Inks Overall Deal at HBO Max, Sets Dan Rather-Inspired Docuseries

    Lisa Ling, the former “View” co-host who currently emcees “This Is Life with Lisa Ling” on CNN, has inked an overall deal with forthcoming streaming service HBO Max. As part of the deal, which marks an expansion of Ling’s relationship with CNN and HBO Max parent company WarnerMedia,  HBO Max has given the greenlight to [...]

  • Pen Writers Union

    #PayUpHollywood: How Unionizing Has Impacted Assistants’ Fight for Better Pay

    Writers’ assistant Olga Lexell used to rack up around $10,000 a year in medical bills to manage a chronic condition, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, that requires her to sit through thyroid X-rays and frequent blood tests. While her show was on hiatus, she would pay $500 a month to extend the insurance that the studio offered, even [...]

  • Kathryn Hahn Mrs. Fletcher

    Kathryn Hahn Talks Working With an Intimacy Coordinator on 'Mrs. Fletcher'

    HBO’s new comedy “Mrs. Fletcher” follows the journey of an empty-nester divorcee who embarks on a journey of self-discovery and sexual exploration following her son’s departure for college. At the series premiere on Monday night at the Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles, Kathryn Hahn discussed playing the titular role of Eve Fletcher, a middle-aged woman [...]

  • 'Chance' TV series premiere

    Hugh Laurie Developing Agatha Christie Project for the BBC (EXCLUSIVE)

    Hugh Laurie is working on a small-screen Agatha Christie adaptation, Variety has learned. The star of “The Night Manager” and “House” is developing a script, but which of the Queen of Crime’s books he is adapting is being kept strictly under wraps. The project is through ITV-owned producer Mammoth Screen and is being developed for [...]

  • Lee Pace Jared Harris

    Lee Pace, Jared Harris to Star in Apple's Isaac Asimov Series 'Foundation'

    Lee Pace and Jared Harris have been cast in the lead roles of the upcoming Apple series “Foundation,” Variety has learned. The series is based on the Isaac Asimov novel series of the same name. It chronicles the saga of The Foundation, a band of exiles who discover that the only way to save the Galactic [...]

  • Rachel Maddow Trump Tax Returns

    Rachel Maddow: Russian Propaganda Claim was 'Hyperbolic Turn of Phrase'

    Rachel Maddow is asking a San Diego court to throw out a defamation suit filed by a conservative news channel, arguing that she was speaking hyperbolically when she referred to the network as “paid Russian propaganda.” Herring Networks, the parent company of One America News Network, sued Maddow and Comcast last month, arguing that Maddow [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content