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Netflix stars to back staff walkout demanding support for trans people after Dave Chappelle special

Written by on 19 October 2021

Jameela Jamil and Jonathan Van Ness are among some of the top Netflix stars who will support a walkout by employees at the streamer in the wake of Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special.

Chappelle’s The Closer, which was released on Netflix earlier this month, features the comedian declaring himself as “team TERF” – referencing the acronym trans-exclusionary radical feminist – as well as defending JK Rowling’s gender critical stance.

The streaming giant was urged by some LGBTQ+ organisations to pull the show down, branding Chappelle’s comments transphobic, with one group accusing the comic of delivering “anti-LGBTQ diatribes”.

Dave Chappelle. Pic: Netflix/Mathieu Bitton Image: Dave Chappelle’s latest show has been criticised. Pic: Netflix/Mathieu Bitton

A group of employees at Netflix have planned a walkout on Wednesday, after top boss Ted Sarandos defended the show, saying it would remain on the platform.

It comes after a member of staff and the head of a trans employee group at Netflix was fired for leaking confidential data surrounding the show, including how much was paid for it – metrics which are fiercely guarded by the streamer.

As part of the walkout, Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness, who identifies as non-binary, and The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil will feature in a video message to Sarandos, supporting the company’s transgender employees and to urge him to push for more inclusive and non-discriminatory content on Netflix.

Queer Eye, a reboot of the 00s lifestyle show, and after-life sitcom The Good Place have been huge, critically-acclaimed successes for Netflix, with the former launching Van Ness into global stardom.

Eureka O’Hara from RuPaul’s Drag Race and Angelica Ross from Pose will also feature among other Netflix stars in the clip.

The walkout has been organised by Ashlee Marie Preston and will take place at Netflix’s Hollywood headquarters. It will share a list of demands with Sarandos, including the creation of a fund to develop trans and non-binary talent and the need for recruiting trans people to leadership roles.

In an Instagram post, Ms Preston said she wants “to underscore the importance of responsible content offerings that prioritise the safety and dignity of all marginalised communities”.

She added: “We shouldn’t have to show up quarterly/annually to push back against harmful content that negatively impacts vulnerable communities. Instead, we aim to use this moment to shift the social ecology around what Netflix leadership deems ethical entertainment, while establishing policies and guidelines that protect employees and consumers, alike.”

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