Actor Leonard Roberts Blames Racial Tensions W/ Ali Larter For ‘Heroes’ Exit
Actors and celebrities are no longer staying quiet about the toxic work environments they are subject to while on set.
The latest to come forward is actor Leonard Roberts, who said his “Heroes” co-star Ali Larter’s treatment toward him led to his exit from the series after one season.
Leonard Roberts, who joined the NBC show in 2006, wrote an open essay Variety and explained that he began to notice issues shortly after landing the role.
“As production began, I looked forward to sharing my thoughts on my character with the writing staff, as I heard other cast members had done the same with theirs. Unfortunately, no such meeting ever materialized. Then I learned that despite the show’s three Black series regulars, there were no Black writers on staff. After a particularly odd promotional photoshoot — in which all the Black adult series regulars were relegated to the back and sides of photo after photo because, we were told, we were “tall” — I was approached by Tim Kring, the creator of the show. He told me my character would not be introduced in the second episode, but that great ideas were on the way. I sat on the sidelines for the second, third, fourth and fifth episodes. Finally, I was excited to learn that Episode 6 would mark my debut.”
Leonard Roberts played D.L. Hawkins, whose character was described as “a white man’s nightmare” and was married to Niki Sanders, played by Ali Larter. He alleged that she treated their white co-stars much differently than him. He said she had an issue with the “level of intimacy” between their characters for one scene, but didn’t show the same disdain for another co-star.
“I pondered why my co-star had exuberantly played a different scene with the Petrelli character involving overt sexuality while wearing lingerie, but found aspects of one involving love and intimacy expressed through dialogue with my character, her husband, disrespectful to her core. I couldn’t help wondering whether race was a factor.”
Roberts revealed his character was written out of the series because of the “Ali Larter situation.”
She has since apologized to him in a statement:
“I am deeply saddened to hear about Leonard Roberts’s experience on Heroes and I am heartbroken reading his perception of our relationship, which absolutely doesn’t match my memory nor experience on the show. I respect Leonard as an artist and I applaud him or anyone using their voice and platform. I am truly sorry for any role I may have played in his painful experience during that time and I wish him and his family the very best.”
The show’s creator Tim Kring also wrote:
“Looking back now, 14 years later, given the very different lens that I view the world through today, I acknowledge that a lack of diversity at upper levels of the staff may have contributed to Leonard experiencing the lack of sensitivity that he describes. I have been committed to improving upon this issue with every project I pursue. I remember Leonard fondly and wish him well.”
What are your thoughts on Leonard Roberts’ essay? Comment and let us know.