10 Celebrities Who Got Fired For Racism Allegations

Being racist has serious consequences.

10 Celebrities Who Got Fired For Racism Allegations Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Taking on a position where you will have a public presence means being scrutinized for your behavior. We often hope that celebrities and other powerful people will take that seriously and strive to be role models in public. However, that doesn't always happen.

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In the past few weeks, as thousands of people join Black Lives Matter protests to demand racial justice, people in entertainment and media have been removed from their jobs for language and actions that are the opposite of tolerance and justice. From actors who tweet about women's bodies to the CrossFit founder saying horrible things about the response of George Floyd's death at the hand of police, we are seeing plenty of people lose their jobs — for good reason — over charges of racism.

Here are just a few of the celebrities who have been fired or lost lucrative partnerships for allegations of racism or racist and problematic behavior. 


1. Lea Michele, Hello Fresh

The star of Glee hasn't been performing recently as she is seven months pregnant with her first child. But she had a brand partnership going with meal-service company Hello Fresh. However, Michele has lost that deal after a social media firestorm that revealed her past as a bully with potential racist overtones. 


Other actors and people who had spent time on-set with Michele confirmed that she wasn't pleasant to work with, though they most stopped just short of calling her racist. However, low-key racism and a reputation for being difficult were enough to convince Hello Fresh to find a new face to represent them. 



A post shared by Lea Michele (@leamichele) on May 20, 2020 at 11:30am PDT

Michele in May, before Hello Fresh terminated their partnership.

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2. Amy Cooper, Franklin Templeton Investments

Amy Cooper wasn't famous until she went viral on social media. The investment banker was illegally allowing her dog to roam free in Central Park when a birdwatcher asked her to put the canine back on a leash. Rather than comply with the birdwatcher named Christian Cooper (no relation) and his request for her to leash her dog (and the signs posted stating the leash policy), Cooper went on the offense and threatened to call the cops. She said she would tell the police that an African-American man was threatening her life, despite video evidence that he was standing still the whole time. She followed through on her threat and the birdwatcher's sister posted a video of the incident online. 

Given the demonstrated history of African American men facing real danger in police encounters, Cooper's action was seen as an existential threat to the birdwatcher. Her employer agreed and terminated her the next day. Not only that, the rescue where she got her dog reclaimed the animal. 

3 & 4. Stassi Schroeder and Kristin Doute, Vanderpump Rules


Like Amy Cooper, these Vanderpump Rules stars tried to use police to do harm to a Black person. In a recent interview, their former castmate Faith Stowers talked about a time when Schroeder and Doute saw a photo of a crime suspect and tried to pin the offense on Stowers. “There was this article in the Daily Mail where there was an African-American lady,” Stowers said in an Instagram Live video. “It was a weird photo, so she looked very light-skinned and had these different weird tattoos. I guess this woman was robbing people. And they called the cops and said it was me. This is, like, a true story. I heard this from, actually, Stassi during an interview.”

Schroeder and Doute couldn't hide from the accusation. Schroeder had talked about it in a prior interview and Doute had tweeted about it. Both of them have been fired from the show and have lost brand partnership deals. 



A post shared by Stassi Schroeder (@stassischroeder) on Feb 17, 2019 at 10:35am PST


Schroeder and Doute in 2019. 

5. James Bennet, Editorial Page Editor, The New York Times

Bennet left his job not because of something he did, but because of something he didn't do. Namely, read a piece before letting it go to publication. The New York Times decided to run an op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) on June 3, 2020. While the Times often gives column inches to elected officials, this particular column caused an uproar because the Senator suggested deploying the U.S. military on Black Lives Matter demonstrations. "One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers,” Cotton wrote.


While there's no way to fire a sitting Senator for writing an opinion that protestors be treated like enemies of the republic, New York Times journalists rebelled against the leadership of the editorial page. They broke with company policy and made public statements criticizing the paper. After learning that Bennett never even read the piece before greenlighting it, he resigned.

6. Hartley Sawyer, The Flash

Sawyer, who has been playing Ralph Dibney since 2017, got in trouble for old tweets this week. In 2012, he quipped, "The only thing keeping me from doing mildly racist tweets is the knowledge that Al Sharpton would never stop complaining about me.” In 2014, he posted a cringe-worthy brag about peeking under a woman clothes saying, “Enjoyed a secret boob viewing at an audition today.”

The CW, which produces The Flash, decided that the fallout was more than they wanted to deal with so they announced this week that he would not be returning to the show. 



A post shared by Hartley Sawyer (@hartleysawyer) on Feb 7, 2020 at 10:02pm PST

Sawyer in 2020.

7. Greg Glassman, Founder and CEO of Crossfit

It usually takes a lot to topple the founder of a successful business but it can be done. Convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein was removed from his company and his name was stripped from it before it was finally sold. John Scnatter of Papa John's was forced out after using racial slurs. Now Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, can add his name to the list of disgraced founders. Glassman was on a call with gym owners when a Minnesota resident mentioned Goerge Floyd. "We’re not mourning for George Floyd — I don’t think me or any of my staff are," Glassman responded. "Can you tell me why I should mourn for him? Other than that it’s the ‘white’ thing to do — other than that, give me another reason.” 


The owners were shocked, and some even decided to disaffiliate with the brand. A few days later, the board of the company announced that Glassman would be retiring. 

8. Jessica Mulroney, I Do Redo

Jessica Mulroney is best known for being the host of Canadian wedding show I Do Redo where she helps couples whose weddings went wrong get a do-over of their special day. She is also good friends with Meghan Markle, whom she has known since Markle was filming Suits in Canada. This week, Mulroney took it very personally when lifestyle influencer Sasha Exeter asked her followers to speak up in support of Black Lives Matter. Mulroney started DMing Exeter and threatening to get Exeter's brand partnerships canceled. Mulroney apologized publically when Exeter spoke out about their altercation. Then in private, Mulroney threatened to sue Exeter for libel. 

In response to all of this, CTV announced that I Do Redo was being removed from all platforms effective immediately and they were terminating their relationhip with Mulroney. No word so far from Markle about her bestie's antics. 


9. Taylor Selfridge, Teen Mom OG

Taylor Selfridge and her boyfriend Corey Wharton were supposed to be featured in a special called “Teen Mom OG at Home: Cory & Taylor’s Baby Special.” However, MTV pulled the plug on airing it after now-deleted tweets from 2012. In the tweets, Selfridge said things like “We have to greet everyone at work but sometimes I won’t greet the Black people because they scare me,” and “My uncle is dating an Asian. Aunt Ping please make me sushi.”

The tweets weren't news this week: they were actually discussed on the Teen Mom OG last year and Selfridge explained them by saying, "At the time, because I was younger, I wasn't thinking it was anything negative. I thought, 'Oh, well this is funny,' or something like that, but it's not. This happened a long time ago."


However, MTV decided to cut their losses and won't work with 25-year-old Selfridge in the future. “MTV pulled [the special] … and is ending our relationship with Taylor Selfridge in light of her past racist statements on social media,” the network said. “MTV strongly condemns systemic racism and stands with those raising their voices against injustice.”

10. Dee Nguyen, The Challenge

Nguyen, who is on the upcoming season of The Challenge, actually started out pretty well. She posted a black square in support of Black Lives Matter on June 2. The next day, however, she resumed her usual pattern of posting selfies. One commenter called her out on it, questioning how she could use her platform for self-promotion when people are dying. Nguyen fired back "people die every fucking day. U don’t know me or what I do. I suggest u wake the fuck up and get off social media." She tried to defend herself by saying, "IDK why some of you think I’m anti-BLM. I’ve been saying that since the day I lost my virginity.” 

MTV wasn't having any of it and cut ties with the 27-year-old. While they will allow Nguyen's episodes of The Challenge to air so as not to ounish the entire cast, they won't work with her again in the future. 



A post shared by Dee Nguyen  (@deenguyen) on Jun 4, 2020 at 6:30am PDT

Dee Nguyen posting selfies this week. 

The lesson from all of this is that we all need to mind our words and actions and simply: be better. Here's how to start.


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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.