Actress and showrunner Frankie Shaw has been accused of misconduct and contractual violations on the set of her Showtime series, SMILF.
According to an exposé by The Hollywood Reporter, one of the show’s stars is leaving amid claims her contract was breached due to two mishandled sex scenes. Several employees have contacted major talent guilds, including WGA and Disney’s ABC Signature Studios — which produces SMILF — with complaints of misconduct.
In a statement to Variety, however, ABC Studios said it had investigated the misconduct allegations against Shaw and concluded that there had been no wrongdoing on Shaw’s part.
“I’ve dedicated my career to creating platforms for underrepresented voices — both in front of and behind the lens. That’s why I felt so strongly that at least half of my crew on SMILF needed to be female, that we should create an intersectional workplace in which more than a third of writers were women of color, and that it was important I have female shadow directors on set,” Shaw, who also stars in the show as Bridgette Bird, said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, denying any bias.
“I am proud of the accomplishments and that all but one of SMILF’s 18 episodes over the first two seasons were directed by women, because these are my values and priorities and I am grateful for the support and contributions of the SMILF team in helping me to realize them,” Shaw said.
“I work daily to create an environment in which everyone should feel safe, and in which I can continue to grow as a leader and manager. I am now and always have been open to hearing and addressing all concerns and issues that fall within my control. It pains me to learn that anyone felt uncomfortable on my set. I sincerely hope we can work together to resolve any and all issues, as I am committed to creating a workplace in which all people feel safe and heard,” Shaw concluded her statement.
Samara Weaving, an actress who plays Nelson Rose in the show’s first and upcoming second season, reportedly made two claims against Shaw.
In one incident, during the first season, Weaving claimed she objected to filming a nude scene. Shaw allegedly told her that she understood how nude scenes could be stressful and spoke of demands made of her in the past, according to Deadline, which also reported that Shaw, who was wearing a bra, pulled up her own T-shirt and showed Weaving how giving birth had altered her own body, explaining that she still did nude scenes when required.
“In an effort to point out her own imperfections and make others feel comfortable with their own bodies, Frankie did lift her shirt and pinched her belly. She was wearing a bra at time and her breasts were not exposed. There were several people around and it wasn’t done in a vulgar or sexually suggestive manner,” Shaw’s attorney said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
The second incident involved Weaving’s claims that her contract was breached during the filming of a sex scene with her onscreen love interest Rafi (played by Miguel Gomez) in the second season, as reported by THR. Weaving, who was wearing a T-shirt and underwear in the scene, allegedly complained to Disney and SAG-AFTRA after the sex scene was seen by unauthorized crew members who were not involved in the supposedly closed set.
In her statement obtained by PEOPLE, Shaw said she was not on set at the time of the incident. A rep for Weaving did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Variety reported that Weaving confided in costar Rosie O’Donnell, who spoke with Showtime executives about Weaving’s complaint, which launched an investigation by ABC. “I have worked with Frankie Shaw for two and a half years. She is an immensely gifted young talent. I love acting on SMILF, a show that I am extremely proud of,” O’Donnell, who plays Tutu, said in a statement to THR.
A rep for O’Donnell did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
“We are not attempting to make excuses or minimize the fact that Samara felt uncomfortable and that we fell short of our intentions to protect her privacy,” SMILF executive producer Michael London told Deadline. “All we can do is apologize to her and make the necessary changes to make sure it never happens again. This isn’t a small matter to Frankie. She’s an outspoken voice for female empowerment and affording women more opportunities to tell their stories. She herself experienced pressure from male directors to participate in uncomfortable sex scenes earlier in her career.”
ABC Signature Studios and Showtime declined to comment.
Weaving was released from her contract at her request and is not expected to join the show for a potential third season, Variety reported.
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