No tolerance. The CW fired The Flash actor Hartley Sawyer on Monday, June 8, days after racist and homophobic tweets by the actor resurfaced.
“Hartley Sawyer will not be returning for season seven of The Flash,” The CW, Warner Bros. TV and Berlanti Productions told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement on Monday. “In regards to Mr. Sawyer’s posts on social media, we do not tolerate derogatory remarks that target any race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation. Such remarks are antithetical to our values and polices, which strive and evolve to promote a safe, inclusive and productive environment for our workforce.”
Showrunner Eric Wallace also tweeted a lengthy statement, noting that the tweets sent by Sawyer, 35, “broke my heart and made me mad as hell.”
The producer added: “I, too, am committed to bringing permanent change to the work environment here on The Flash. … I will continue to find Black and Brown writers, directors, actors and producers of all genders to help tell Flash stories. Their stories are part of the American narrative, too, and must be heard. And the more you hear and see us, the more you will begin to recognize one simple fact: We’re human beings, too.”
The former Young and the Restless star joined The Flash as a recurring character in season 4, then was promoted to series regular in seasons 5 and 6.
His Twitter account has since been deactivated, but the tweets included multiple offensive messages. “All women should be in sex farms,” he wrote in 2011. In June 2012, he tweeted, “The only thing stopping me from doing mildly racist tweets is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me.”
In 2014, he added, “Out at dinner and just exposed myself as a racist, AGAIN,” and later, “Jingle bells, batman smells, women shouldn’t vote.” He also used multiple homophobic slurs.
The New York native apologized via a lengthy Instagram post on May 30.
“I’m not here to make excuses — regardless of the intention, my words matter and they carry profound consequences. And mine can and have caused pain and embarrassment, along with feelings I can only imagine, to supporters and fans, my cast mates, the crew, my colleagues and friends. I owe them all an apology. And I owe each of you an apology. Thank you for holding me accountable,” he wrote. “My words, irrelevant of being meant with an intent of humor, were hurtful, and unacceptable. I am ashamed I was capable of these really horrible attempts to get attention at that time. I regret them deeply. This was not acceptable behavior. These were words I threw out at the time with no thought or recognition of the harm my words could do, and now have done today.”
He added that he’s ” incredibly sorry, ashamed and disappointed” in his ignorance.
“I want to be very clear: this is not reflective of what I think or who I am now. Years ago, thanks to friends and experiences who helped me to open my eyes, I began my journey into becoming a more responsible adult – in terms of what I say, what I do, and beyond. I’ve largely kept that journey private, and this is another way that I have let so many down. I still have more work to do,” Sawyer wrote. “But how I define myself now does not take away the impact of my words, or my responsibility for them. I am very sorry.”
The actor’s firing comes amid nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd, who died after Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin held a knee to his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25.
For more information, visit Blacklivesmatter.com.
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