Jason Mitchell and his spectacular tumble from stardom to infamy has been documented heavily, but a new wrinkle in the story suggests more was known than previously thought. A showrunner for hit series The Chi says that Lena Waithe and the entire set of the show knew about Mitchell’s behavior prior to his firing.
While Mitchell’s termination from Desperados was the impetus for all that followed, sources claim his conduct had been a problem for at least two actresses on The Chi. More than one person on the show — including Tiffany Boone, who played Mitchell’s character’s girlfriend, Jerrika, and second-season showrunner Ayanna Floyd — filed a complaint. Despite HR training, these sources say, the alleged conduct persisted and Boone asked to be released from the series. But Mitchell was to remain for a planned season three, sources say, despite Waithe’s activism on the subject of on-set safety. “I’ve been very involved in Time’s Up and that movement, and for season two, we’re making sure that women feel safe,” Waithe told The Hollywood Reporter in June 2018. “[I]f you want to play that game and be disrespectful or misbehave on set with an actress or anyone, I’ll happily call Showtime and say, ‘This person has to go,’ and you will get shot up and it’ll be a wonderful finale.”
So why didn’t Mitchell’s character go down in a volley of onscreen bullets? While Waithe has not been the showrunner handling day-to-day duties, she has credits as creator, producer and sometime writer. A source close to Waithe says she was made aware of Mitchell’s alleged harassment only after the first season wrapped. The Chi’s season one showrunner, Elwood Reid, declined to comment, but a source close to him says he was unaware of conduct issues. (Boone did not make a complaint until after work had wrapped.) Concern for on-set conduct, the source continues, was among the reasons Waithe pushed for a woman of color (Floyd) as showrunner for the second season. Still, this person initially stated that Waithe did not know the alleged conduct had continued.
Both Floyd and Boone are no longer working with The Chi for its upcoming third season.