‘The Activist’ reality show to rebrand after backlash over decision to hire actor who wore blackface

‘The Activist’ reality show to rebrand after backlash over decision to hire actor who wore blackface

An upcoming CBS reality show called The Activist is being dramatically changed in response to the backlash surrounding the format of the show as well as one of the hosts, Julianne Hough wearing blackface.

The show was initially planned as a reality competition in which activists compete against each other to find out who’s best at raising awareness of a cause.

Despite the fact that material for the first season of the show had already been shot, The Activist will be a completely new show, with filming set to begin from square one.

Since Hough, Usher and Priyanka Chopra Jonas were confirmed as hosts late last week, the show, which was initially planned to premiere as a series on Oct. 22, has received a lot of backlash.

Social media users, bloggers, and opinion writers took issue with the competitive aspect of the show - pitting activists against each other.

As reported in Deadline, the activists would compete in “head-to-head challenges” that “promote their causes, with their success measured via online engagement, social metrics, and hosts’ input.”

CBS and producing partners Live Nation and Citizen released a statement that noted that the show was created to showcase a “wide audience the passion, long hours, and ingenuity that activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others to do the same.”

“However, it has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort,” they said.

They further mention that the activists’ impacts and advocation would be highlighted instead and each person would receive a “cash grant for the organisation of their choice as planned for the original show.”

​​Global Citizen released its own separate statement that included an apology. “Global activism centers on collaboration and cooperation, not competition. We apologize to the activists, hosts, and the larger activist community — we got it wrong,” the organisation said.

The initial concept for The Activist was announced in May but, as no celebrity names were associated with it, it didn’t draw too much attention.

But when the judges were announced, people took issue with Julianne Hough’s inclusion. In 2013, the dancer and actor dressed up as Uzo Aduba’s Orange is the New Black character, inlcuding brown makeup, the Bantu knots and orange jumpsuit, which was abhorred by many.

And as a result, she took to her Instagram to pen a lengthy statement in an Instagram post about her involvement in The Activist

"There is a feeling of insult, dehumanization, insensitivity and hurt that is being rightfully felt. I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge,” she wrote.

She continued: Wearing Blackface was a poor choice based on my own White privilege and my own White body bias that hurt people and is something I regret doing to this day...My commitment has been to reflect and act differently.”

Usher nor Chopra Jonas have publicly commented on the controversy.

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