In the early morning hours of Saturday, December 14, 2019, Actor, writer and producer Orlando Jones took to social media to tell the world that he would not be returning to Season 3 of American Gods on STARZ. Two things made this announcement a shock: One, this was not a public press release or an official statement from the show and two, apparently the firing had occurred on September 10, 2019. Some 3 months before the announcement. Also, what he shared seemed to suggest that the new showrunner Charles Eglee had a severe problem with his character Mr. Nancy and Jones’ portrayal of the African God. And that his character was “not good for Black America.” I immediately reached out to the actor personally to talk to him about the situation and this podcast episode is that very discussion.
To be clear, this is not an investigative report into the show. Orlando Jones has always been very close to his fans and incredibly supportive of me and others in the Blerd community. That’s why I made the conscious decision to make this a podcast interview because I wanted fans to hear what Jones had to say in his own words. In the discussion, I asked several questions: Why was he fired? Why did he wait so long to tell everyone? Why did the studio wait? What is it that he would like fans to do now that they know? The answers will surprise you.
Jones’ situation aside, American Gods has definitely had its share of problems over the past couple of seasons. The show was developed by Bryan Fuller and Michael Green and based on a sci-fi novel written by Neil Gaiman. Following a stellar first season, Fuller and Green were fired from the series. Following that, it was announced that Gillian Anderson would not be returning to the show as well. Fans were concerned, but not panicked because the nature of the show featured a rotating cast of characters, around Shadoe Moon (Ricky Whittle) and Wednesday/Odin (Ian McShane). Also, after Jones’ incredible guest appearance in Season 1 (which was just 2 scenes by the way), he was brought on as a regular to the series. Freemantle USA, the production company for the show, then announced Season 2 had a new showrunner in Jesse Alexander.
According to Jones, that’s where things started going left. Turmoil in the writers’ room, poorly written scenes, last-minute rewrites needed just days before shoots, and more confusion. On the outside, the show seemed to be thriving, but like Emily Browning’s undead character Laura Moon, underneath, the production seemed to be falling apart. At the request of Executive Producers, Jones was asked to take on much of the co-writing responsibilities himself (of the POC characters at least). Including Anansi’s “Slavery is a cult” speech of Season 2 in episode 4 at the mortuary between Mr. Nancy, goddess Bilquis and Mr. Ibis (Demore Barnes), where they discuss the real-life issue of human trafficking. A scene that regained popularity after going to streaming and actually went viral last month. Apparently, after Jones had been fired.
For the past few weeks, we’ve seen announcements of new cast members such as Wale, Danny Trejo and Julia Sweeney, as well as more of the original cast such as Crispin Glover (Mr. World) leaving the show. But until this last weekend, no one really knew what was going on.
Since this interview, both Mousa Kraish (Jinn) and Pablo Schreiber (Mad Sweeney) have announced they were let go from the show as well. And they along with original showrunner Bryan Fuller and original writer Neil Gaiman showed support on twitter to Jones as well.
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This was WILD!! They did what they did BECAUSE they are racist, he’s Black, and the 1000% underestimated him as a person. It truly was a plantation. They used him for his labor. We stand with the Mayor of Comic Con.
I think they definitely didn’t take into account his massive fandom, and that once he opened his mouth about what they did, sh*t was gonna go down. The ptb really don’t take into account black fandom and how we stan for these performers!
They absolutely didn’t consider that.
Yes we do!
Thank you for this very insightful interview. I absolutely agree with Orlando, me as a white gay male wouldn’t dare to claim I could write from the black gay male perspective. Although I do have my own experiences with being disenfranchised, made fun of, not being taken seriously, I’ll only ever have second hand experience when it comes to racism. I have seen it, it exists, it’s not a fucking fairytale.
Thank you so much for listening!
Yo! Sis, this is FIRE! I had some idea, but, no clue of the depth of this racism and B.S. that he had to endure…this show is dead for me, and, I’m done with that production company too. Thank you for putting this out!!!
Thanks for reading and commenting Daniel! I’m glad you liked it!
Why they always wanna go in a “Creative” direction? Is creative the word for Whitewashed?
Yes sis, it is
Do you think there is any chance he would work with Gaiman again? Because I loved the way he wrote Anansi and would like to seem him tackle Anansi boys.
Oh definitely. Jones has said so many times, he really respects him.
So, I’m sorry, but did they essentially fire him because he did the rewrite better than the dudes in the writers room? They should all be ashamed of themselves. Eglee especially. He should have been asking for help, not pontificating about how he can do a better job. If I ever get one of my works made for television, I want to work with Orlando. Because I know he’d be a fantastic person to work with.
No idea. Even he doesn’t know exactly why he was fired. But that’s a lot of work to put into a project.
They fired him because the new showrunner said that “his message of “angry gets shit done”is wrong for black America.” Basically saying that the white showrunner knows better than black people whats best for them.
This whole situation gets worse and worse the more I learn about it. I am so sad Orlando and all the other marginalized people on the show had to go through this. I hope they all find awesome work with better production companies, and that American Gods can come back some day under worthier showrunners.
Oh, and thanks to you and Orlando for this interview! It means a lot to really know what happened so we can decide how to take action. I’m sure stuff similar to this goes down all the time, and we just never know. I’m glad he’s got fan and community support and is willing and able to step up and speak out. I wish it wasn’t necessary.
I didn’t even follow this show, but always loved Mr. Jones’ work on Mad tv and Sleepy Hollow. The man is creative, funny, and deep. If I’m remembering right, he had a really funny series of 7-up commercials and they just took the character and replaced him with another actor that wasn’t nearly as good. The kind of strength and talent that he possesses just flat intimidates some insecure people when it comes from a black man. The way he could turn around script revisions in a few days that the hired writers couldn’t get right in a few weeks surely ruffled some untalented, racist feathers.
I haven’t heard him speak outside of his acting roles before, and he’s just as impressive in real life as he is on the screen. Thank you so much for this excellent interview.
I just want to say I am so impressed by Orlando Jones, his class during this time especially…he has every ight to be super angry but that is not what he has shown. His talent as Anand will be missed and I have not decided on whether or not I am gonna watch season 3…but I am leaning toward no.
[…] If you want to know further, I’m including the Blerdgirl’s podcast link here where she interviews Jones about the […]