Nickelodeon Child Star Bryan Hearne Says He Was ‘Referred To As A Piece Of Charcoal’ While Filming: ‘Remarks Like That Are Harmful’

Bryan Hearne

Nickelodeon Child Star Bryan Hearne Says He Was ‘Referred To As A Piece Of Charcoal’ While Filming: ‘Remarks Like That Are Harmful’

Actor Bryan Hearne is getting candid about his time working as a kid entertainer for Nickelodeon.

The child star recently opened up about often feeling taken advantage of by the network and shared that he even faced racially charged rhetoric by adults on set.

Bryan Hearne

During a recent interview Bryan Hearne, 35, recalled being cast in stereotypical roles such as a drug dealer or rapper even as a child, and how it seemed many adults perceived him in those ways. Recounting the time one adult made a racially charged comment towards him, Hearne stated:

“I was referred to as a ‘piece of charcoal’ [by an adult]…Remarks like that are harmful. They stay with you.”

The actor went on to recall several “uncomfortable” moments after being cast on the show’s hit comedy sketch series All That for seasons 7 and 8. Hearne claimed that despite his negative feelings at being asked to wear a leotard and play a rap character called “Lil Fetus,” he, like other co-stars, felt they had to do everything asked of them to keep their jobs. He continued:

“There was never any discussion…We felt like we couldn’t say no…It was a really uncomfortable situation, and after a while it felt like we were just part of this torture chamber.”

Hearne’s alarming account of his time at Nickelodeon comes on the heels of the recently released docu-series Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, released March 17th and 18th. The project chronicles the tale of several famous child stars and the abusive conditions they were often exposed to. As we recently reported, Hearne’s fellow Nick star Drake Bell gave his own recount of his experience at the network, sharing that he’d been repeatedly molested by his on-set vocal coach Brian Peck, starting at the age of 15.

Recalling the abuse, Bell stated:

“I was sleeping on the couch where I usually sleep and I woke up to him… I opened my eyes and I woke up and he was…he was sexually assaulting me…And I froze, and was in complete shock and had no idea what to do or how to react.”

Drake Bell

He added:

“And it just got worse, and worse, and worse, and worse, and I was just trapped…I had no way out. The abuse was extensive and it got pretty brutal.”

Bell went on to claim that he was often invited over to Peck’s home for private acting lessons where the abuse would continue. As the documentary notes, several child predators who worked at Nickelodeon were charged and tried for their abuse. Peck reportedly pleaded no contest to a charge of oral copulation with a minor under 16 and performing a lewd act with a 14- or 15-year-old in connection with Bell’s case back in 2004. He was subsequently sentenced to 16 months in prison and was required to register as a sex offender. That same year one of the network’s production assistants, Jason Handy, 30, was sentenced to six years in prison for sex crimes involving minors, including an 11-year-old actress on The Amanda Show.

Regarding the sexual abuse, Hearne said he personally remained in a “separate environment” and had no clue others were being subjected to it. He credits much of his ability to sustain the other on-set horrors he faced to his relationship with fellow All That co-star Giovonnie Samuels. Speaking about his friendship with Samuels, 38, who was cast for seasons 7-9 of the show, Hearne stated:

“That was a highlight of my work day, to know that she would be there,”

Giovonnie Samuels

Samuels also appears in the child star documentary and subsequently spoke about her “trauma bond” with Hearne and feeling as though they were “the two token Black children” in an interview. She stated:

“I didn’t realize the significance of the impact that I made on people being the only representation they had on television and going through, I hate to call it a trauma bond, but at least having somebody with me that I could talk to, not just as a child actor, but also culturally.”

Giovonnie Samuels

She added:

“You learn to walk that fine line…You’re always asking yourself, ‘Do I speak up?’ And if I do speak up, will I lose my job? Or do I just let it go?”

All four parts of the Investigation Discovery docu-series can now be watched on HBO Max.

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Authored by: Kay Johnson