Black alumni demand investigations at Second City
Chris Redd, Amber Ruffin, Sam Richardson and other prominent actors and writers say staffers guilty of racist acts and sexual abuse must be uncovered and ousted.
Chris Redd, Amber Ruffin and Sam Richardson are among the prominent African American alumni of The Second City who on Monday demanded investigations into racism and sexual misconduct at the historic Chicago comedy company.
In an open letter, 19 current and former Second City employees say they will no longer tolerate “the erasure, racial discrimination, manipulation, pay inequity, tokenism, monetization of black culture and trauma-inducing experiences of black artists at The Second City.”
After several days of outcry about the theater’s treatment of artists of color, the Second City’s longtime executive producer and co-owner Andrew Alexander, who is white, stepped down Friday.
African American actor and director Anthony LeBlanc was named interim executive producer on Saturday. Sympathetic to LeBlanc, the black artists said in their letter that he has been asked to “sort out a mess decades in the making” and added, “The task he has been charged with is no more than integration into a burning house.”
They urged LeBlanc and his colleagues to hire an independent HR firm and an outside diversity and inclusion firm, and allow the permanent executive producer to be chosen by a steering committee that includes current Second City students who are black, indigenous, people of color or LQBTIA+.
LeBlanc and other Second City administrators had no immediate comment.
The alumni who signed the letter include current “Saturday Night Live” cast member Redd, “Late Night With Seth Meyers” writer and on-air contributor Ruffin and “Veep” and “Detroiters” actor Sam Richardson.
Also Dewayne Perkins, the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” writer whose public accusations helped spark last week’s discussions of Second City’s racial issues; Christina Anthony, who plays Aunt Denise in “mixed-ish,” and Tawny Newsome of Netflix’s new sitcom “Space Force.”
Here is the letter: