Ruby Rose Says Batwoman’s Dangerous Set Caused Them to Leave the Show

Feature image by Photo by Phillip Faraone/WireImage

On the heels of The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) groundbreaking win for better working conditions in their negotiations — and strike threat — with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), this morning Ruby Rose took to Instagram talk about their experience with dangerous set conditions on Batwoman, which included more details about the neck injury they suffered while doing their own stunts in 2019. They also mentioned seeing a crew member suffer third degree burns all over his body, sustaining a cut on their face that was “so close to my eye, I could have been blind,” losing two stunt doubles over the course of the season, and being forced to film during Covid when all the CW’s other series were shutting down.

  • Screenshot of Ruby Rose's Instagram Live in cursive font as Rose describes their reasons for leaving Batwoman (full transcript can be found at: https://www.cbr.com/batwoman-ruby-rose-horrifying-set-conditions-slams-wbtv-berlanti/)

In their Instagram stories, Rose also called out several Batwoman execs, from Former Warner Bros. Television Group Chairman Peter Roth, who Rose says made young women “steam his pants… around his crotch” while he was still wearing them; to showrunner Caroline Dries, who Rose says “has no heart and wanted us to finish the season throughout the pandemic” and who “maybe visited the set 4 times in a year”; to co-star Dougray Scott, who “hurt a female stunt double” and “yelled like a little bitch at women and was a nightmare.” (Of note: Both Roth and Scott have left WB and the series.)

Rose’s Instagram posts color in some of the lines that they drew when they left the series after the first season. At first, the decision seemed like a tense but mostly amicable split but as more statements and interviews and rumors and Insta lives from the cast have rolled out, the situation has seemed a lot more messy than the original press releases let on. And now we know!

As Hollywood continues to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into 2021, it’s as important as ever for LGBTQ+ folks, women, people of color, and disabled cast and crew to share their stories to generate collective power and force accountability and reform.

As I was reading Rose’s IG, I was thinking about recent conversations from Azie Tesfai’s (Kelly Olsen / Guardian from Supergirl) Instagram Live, where she got together to talk with Javicia Leslie (our Batwoman) and Candice Patton (Iris West from The Flash) to talk about being Black women in the Arrowverse, and how they’ve had to form their own support group to deal with racism from the top down while filming and promoting their shows. Javicia Leslie mentioned, more than once, for example, that DC’s decision to keep Kate Kane alive was a nightmare for her because it opened up even more doors for racist attacks from fans who wanted Kane back in the cape and cowl, or from shippers who wanted to see Sophie back with Kate instead of growing closer to Ryan Wilder. She can’t even turn on the comments during her IG Lives, due to the blatantly racist remarks

This on top of the racism these Black actresses deal with at comic cons, where they get shoved into un-trafficked corners for autographs with little promotion from organizers about their events or panels; and from their own co-stars who have a shameful track record when it comes to showing up for the Black women they work with. Wallis Day, who took over for Rose as Kate Kane in Batwoman season two, even went as far as to encourage racist abuse against Leslie by laughing at people who called her out for not standing up when commenters hurled racist abuse at Leslie on Day’s social media posts.

A Twitter screenshot from September 22, 2021 at 12:40pm: "@jelevision: You could've told fans to stop posting racist monkey emojis in posts disrespecting Ryan and Javicia. There has been an uptick of those posts ever since Kate was brought back in S2. But you never did and you still haven't."/ in response Wallis Day tweeted three laughing while crying face emojis.

We’ve even seen this play out at Autostraddle, with commenters consistently questioning the CW’s decision to create a new superhero played by a Black bisexual woman, instead of supporting a revolutionary storytelling decision during an unprecedented uprising for Black lives. Which is to say: Questioning the whole entire point of superheroes! Which is to be the role models and protectors we need at the exact time we need them!

As “Batwoman” and “Ruby Rose” trend on Twitter and countless people call for a shut down of the show because of Rose’s posts, I hope we’ll keep in mind the totality of the abuse queer people and POC have suffered on these superhero sets over the years, and come together to continue to push for sweeping change that protects everyone on set and in writers rooms and in executive offices, especially those most vulnerable in our community.


Before you go! It takes funding to keep this publication by and for queer women and trans people of all genders running every day. And A+ members keep the majority of our site free for everyone. Still, 99.9% of our readers are not members. A+ membership starts at just $4/month. If you're able to, will you join A+ and keep Autostraddle here and working for everyone?

Join A+
Related:

heatherannehogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 1243 articles for us.

33 Comments

  1. First, I want to say I believed Azie and Ray and Candice when they spoke out about the mistreatment they suffered from and I also believe Ruby. For years we’ve been hearing horrible stories like that from the CW and I’m convinced it’s a completely garbage network. Ruby’s statement is just one of many that show the inhumane and exploitative working conditions that sadly seem to be common in the entertainment industry as more and more of these stories come to light. Disney, WB, Netflix… all of the big players, they are not our friends, they don’t make movies or shows to entertain or for artistic purposes or for representation. They don’t care about the lives and well-beings of their workers. They only care about making money. Late stage capitalism, billionares, multibillion dollar companies, they are the enemy, the villains.
    But instead of highlighting that, instead of staying on the topic on how we need far more unionising and workers’ strikes and systemic change in the entertainment industry as well as all other industries, you made this into a racist fans harassing black actors issue – which is also bad, but completely beside the point here.

    • Hi! I was the editor on this piece.

      I believe this is apparent in the article, but for further clarification: It’s our belief that you can’t separate labor or capitalism from racism experienced by laborers. All of these issues are intertwined. Which is not “completely besides the point” – it is, in fact, the entire point.

      • Injustices and mistreatment always hit black people and other marginalized people harder due to racism, that’s just a fact. Except the ones called out for racism in this article (by given multiple examples of) are fans and fellow actors. This article though I thought is mainly about the mistreatment of the laborors in the entertainment industry, and therefore the racism the laborors expierenced by the CW should be highlighted.
        Sure, the fans who harassed the black actors are racist assholes, but how does calling them out, help to implement save and humane working conditions on sets of tv shows and movies? Shouldn’t our focus be on holding the CW accountable? Is it not WB and all its bosses who have the power to improve working conditions? Is it not them who determine the conditions of the contracts of cast and crew? What has that to do with some assholes at comic con or if Wallis tweeted laughing emojis. So excuse me for not seeing the relevance here to go into that much detail when you could have easily found multiple examples on how the CW failed to treat their black actors right.

        • Thea! You know in your heart, you absolutely know that if Ruby Rose faced these conditions, these Black women are facing them and likely worse! Javicia Leslie does all her own stunts, even the flying ones, so they can catch full reactions and emotional moments and not have to quick-cut edit out with a double. Knowing what we know, because of research, about how everyone from safety professionals to doctors take less care with Black bodies, and how now notoriously unsafe this set is, and how much more Javicia does, you know that she’s in more danger even than Ruby Rose! And you also have to know that she has SO MUCH LESS power than Ruby Rose did when she was Batwoman and does now that she’s just Ruby Rose again!

          Ruby Rose can call out CW bigs by name, no repercussions, whatever. But Javicia Leslie can’t do that! She has hinted that some of her coworkers — namely Wallis Day — created a racist and hostile environment, and she’s talked about struggles with some fans. For right now, that’s likely all she’s safe to do. So then why can’t we both give voice to Rose’s posts *and* pass the mic to the women who started this conversation and who have less power than Rose to speak on these things. It’s silly to pretend you can only be indignant about one thing because all evil is isolated, and it’s irresponsible to ignore the women who started talking about the trouble behind the scenes in the first place!

          • What I don’t understand is last year if you saw the IG live and all it was wonderwall between Jessica and the showrunner. Between Jessica/the cast and Wallis Day and now everything is bad and suddenly people change what they say. I believe that CW is abusing and that racism is very present in DC but nobody is consistant in terms of complain in those CW shows …

          • I wish more people talked about the racism that Javicia Leslie is facing at Wallis Day’s hands. It’s good to point out

    • No, talking about the abuse faced by Black working actors is not “off topic.” Black workers’ issues ARE workers’ issues. You clearly understand that Ruby was facing unsafe and exploitative working conditions, yet you deny that Javica is both facing those same work conditions and additionally dealing with abusive consumers and a workplace culture where racist abuse is acceptable. If Batwoman was a retailer instead of a TV show, and Black frontline staff members were dealing with racist abuse from customers without any support from their coworkers or management, would you say that racism in the workplace was irrelevant in a discussion about inhumane working conditions? Addressing those issues would be part of any good union campaign, not “completely beside the point.” If you’re an organizer, you need to invest in some training.

    • Hi, Thea. Thank you for reading and for your comments.

      This very indie queer website spends the majority of its time talking about the evils of big business and capitalism. It’s baked into everything from our TV and film coverage to our sex and dating advice to — well, I even wrote a fundraiser letter about it just a few weeks ago! Capitalism is a cesspool, you’re right about that, and capitalism is one of the things these horrifying issues are entrenched in. However, to shake capitalism down as THE enemy of social justice and labor reform is misguided, especially when you’re asking me to ignore racism to focus only on capitalism. 

      For starters, the brutal capitalism of the United States was born, sustained, and is still thriving in this country because it is rooted in slavery. We are a country that made more millionaires per capita than any country in the world out of slave owners in the Mississippi Valley. We are a country whose most valuable export prior to the Civil War was cotton and it was exclusively created by the labor of enslaved Black people. Prior to the Civil War, the value of the slaves owned in the South exceeded the combined total of all the factories and railroads in the country. This is a country whose capitalism is *inextricably* tangled with endless violence against Black people. 

      Princeton professor Matthew Desmond wrote of this kind of capitalism: “If today America promotes a particular kind of low-road capitalism — a union-busting capitalism of poverty wages, gig jobs and normalized insecurity; a winner-take-all capitalism of stunning disparities not only permitting but awarding financial rule-bending; a racist capitalism that ignores the fact that slavery didn’t just deny black freedom but built white fortunes, originating the black-white wealth gap that annually grows wider — one reason is that American capitalism was founded on the lowest road there is.”

      So we cannot talk of capitalism as THE enemy while ignoring the enemy of racism, which gave birth to our capitalism and is still flourishing in tandem with it.

      Having watched fandom do its thing for the last 15 years, and looking at Twitter this morning when this news broke, I could see the patterns of racist fans emerging. And there are disgustingly racist fans of this show. Queer ones who use slurs and racist tropes and iconography and just general byullying and dehumanizinug tactics at and against the Black women in these casts. It makes me sick. They took this news from Ruby Rose and they ran with it directly to the place they could start using it in their racist attacks against actors, writers, and the very idea of a Black Batwoman. 

      These Black women actors have tried in countless ways to make it clear what kind of abuse they’ve faced from all angles on their shows. They’ve tried to get their stories out in any way they can while still keeping their jobs. But despite the fact that they have worked dozens of years on these shows, and Ruby Rose has only worked one, it’s her posts that get the attention, the outrage, the mainstream media pickup, the #IStandWithRuby hashtags.

      And this is of course a larger pattern too. A Black woman, Tarana Burke, started the Me Too moviement, but it only gained traction when Alyssa Milano posted the hashtag in 2017. She was credited as the founder of the movement and early attempts to re-center Burke were met with protests like “Can we not just keep the attention on the REAL enemy, these men?” When Gabby Petito went missing and activists began pointing out that media attention and public empathy for one missing white girl girl exceeds the outcry for years and thousands of missing POC women. Those activists too were met with cries of “Can we not just keep the attention on the REAL enemy, men?” This happens to women of color — especially Black women — EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME.

      The Black women in these casts were the ones with the most to lose and they have been the ones leading the way in calling out abuse on these sets. I didn’t take a story about Ruby Rose and make it about them. I took a story that Ruby Rose told, contextualized it, and then re-centered the conversation on the women who started it.

      In short: American Capitalism is the enemy, yes. American Capitalism is rooted in and inextricably linked with racism. These Black actresses spoke and were not heard. Ruby Rose spoke and was heard. I pointed the conversation back to where it started. We will never overcome capitalism without dismantling racism. 

      • Thank you, Heather, for this essay. It’s funny how you could have saved your breath, because I don’t even disagree with you. (Also, thanks for the history lesson and for assuming my knowledge of US history is on the level of the average American high school student. I know it’s hard to take your US centric glasses off, but not every country has such a shitty public education system, you know? We actually have books that say the US civil war was about slavery – which apparently can’t be said about the books in all high schools in the US. Anyway…) I’m replying one last time because I still feel you and other commenters didn’t understand what my criticism is actually about. So, I’ll keep it short and simple this time… in my opinion this article should have focused on the wrongdoings of the CW, INCLUDING the racism! Not on the wrongdoings of fans and Wallis Day. (Racism in fandom could have been a whole new article in itself.)
        Instead my comments are misinterpreted and I’m accused of “asking to leave racism out of it”. But it seems I should have expected that. My bad to assume people wouldn’t jump my throat if I dare to criticise the reporting on this site. I’ve sure learned my lesson though.

        • Thea,

          Respectfully, I don’t believe anyone here is missing your point. We are saying that its the stance of this publication that the racist harassment of Black talent on a television show (including, in one documented instance by that person’s co-worker) is undoubtedly a labor issue. As much as any unsafe set practice, which is also crucial and important to call attention to and deal with.

          I would like to quote another commenter on this thread who wasn’t myself or Heather, but addressed this topic with precision:

          “If Batwoman was a retailer instead of a TV show, and Black frontline staff members were dealing with racist abuse from customers without any support from their coworkers or management, would you say that racism in the workplace was irrelevant in a discussion about inhumane working conditions? Addressing those issues would be part of any good union campaign, not “completely beside the point.”

          We are firmly of a belief that there is no separating that these Black actors have dealt with both on set, from their coworkers, and yes from fans, from any other news of unsafe practices on set. Because the constant barrage of racism is a safety issue — certainly for mental health, also for physical health.

          This is completely on topic to the conversation that has been recently thrust back into the spotlight by Rose — and a conversation that Rose did not begin, but that Black actors on the Arrowverse have been openly discussing for a while now with no major reporting on the issue, which is why we felt it vital to recenter those voices here. These are all conversations about safety at work. All of them.

          Thanks for your time!

    • there’s a lot of grace here, appreciate all the thoughtful replies.

      suggesting to white people, can we please stop reacting when racism is discussed as related to whatever the topical systemic issue is?

      There’s no need to recenter discussions to exclude racism – we know there is no issue that doesn’t hit people of color harder than us. we all know it. every issue needs to still be examined in relation to race because we haven’t done our job yet and got out of the way people of color becoming truly equal.

  2. This article and comments reminded me that Madeleine Mantock has left Charmed which is also a CW show. I am now worried about the working conditions on that show as well. She was also the only visibly Black female main character. I hope she is okay. I am also now worried about Lucy Barrett, a Black woman actor, who has been cast to replace her (as a new character). Heather, thank you for this article and for your additional essay in the comments above. Carmen, thank you for your editing and everything you do here.

    • Many of the black actors across all the CW shows have hinted over the years about how they have treated by not only production but fans as well. Particularly in the case of the Charmed reboot, people were going after the actresses from day one. Much of that was because the original cast participated in a lot of very public bullying that was directed at these actresses just because they did not want a remake to be made. They have yet to apologize and probably never will.

      Candice Patton from The Flash has dealt with racist abuse for years with no support from her cast members or the network and she has been as vocal as she can be about that without risking her job. China McClain left Black Lightening before even finishing the final season and has hinted that the reason was because she “saw something truly evil” happen on set. There are more examples like this.

      That Instagram live with many of the black actresses across the CW shows is still up somewhere on YT. I encourage people to check it out.

  3. It seems like the CW has some problems with racism. Like how the actress who played Bonnie, and the character Bonnie on the Vampire Diaries was treated. Bonnie a black witch often sidelined and some of her ancestors on the Vampire Diaries were slaves but euphemistically called a handmaiden. Also Damen and his brother were confederate soliders. Elena’s doubleganer from the past, had one of Bonnie’s ancestors as a so called “Handmaiden.” Also in Twilight Alice’s boyfriend was a confederatte solider too. It seems like sometimes in vampire fiction people want to make vampires confederette soliders for some reason.

    The CW also quickly gave Supergirl in the second season a white boyfriend, due to racist backlash against James Olsen.

    I could totally see Javicia Leslie being treated as badly or even worse than Ruby Rose. It seems like some CW showrunners and fandom really likes to devalue black characters. Or to devalue the positive impact that a black Batwoman could have on black kids. There are not a lot of queer black superheroes on tv or in movies.

    It seems like some white queer women have to unlearn some of their racism in fandom.

    • It’s really interesting that this article mentions the racism Black CW stars have faced but doesn’t mention that in these IG stories Ruby Rose refers to their black costar Camrus Johnson as an “egomaniac kid who worked one day a week had the audacity”. Because as a Black woman that was a huge red flag to me. For a White person to refer to a Black adult as a KID and say that he had “audacity” in a public open post makes me think they were probably saying worse things at that set.

      I don’t believe in doubting alleged victims so I’m sure that there were issues on that set and I believe Warner Bros needs to be held account and asked tough questions but it wouldn’t surprise me if there actually were complaints lodged at Ruby by coworkers and below the line staff which WB used as an excuse to get rid of them. And I feel like if we are having intersectional conversations we can’t leave obvious red flags like this out.

  4. Ruby Rose is absolutely full of it and desperately attempting to reinforce the concept that she didn’t do any wrong or by her actions (while being employed by D.C. comics & the CW) absolutely reach subpar standards of basic human decency.
    Yes, we’ve all become accustomed to hearing threats of defamation suits when speaking truth to power but I’m too old and tired for this nonsense.

      • These things happen. This is why a majority of the time stuntmen/women are suggested to perform this work. While it can pay better to do your own stunts it isn’t advised. It’s quite well known with her background that she’d desired to get stunt work on her resumè and it’s known to be dangerous work.
        Ultimately however, my apologies for failing to show a larger amount of empathy for an individual that’s having a rough time finding employment in an industry that has higher standards than working alongside people that are happily involved in one of the dirtiest international scandals and conspiracies in this industries history.
        Never forget; simply because something hasn’t reached a courtroom or become public knowledge doesn’t mean an “accusation” is false. Finding a round about manner to set up the legal playing field to financially and legally cause harm to her former employer and coworkers isn’t going to change their continued successes. It only becomes pitiable to witness these things after knowing perfectly well why they only just decided to draw attention.

        • “These things happen.”- I’ll stop you right there… you think it’s normal and inevitable that people get injured or even die working on a movie or tv set? It’s not. It’s absolutely possible for these big corporations to provide safe working conditions, like limiting working hours, so that people don’t fall asleep on their drive home and crash after a 16h work day on set, or like investing in security meassures to make stunts safer, or like generally don’t work their employees to the ground. These companies just choose not to, because it would cost them money. And for them profit goes above everyone else, even human lives. If you think that’s fine and that’s just how it is, then you’re part of the problem.

          • For Ruby Rose this wasn’t ever about safer working conditions. This is her desperately side stepping being thrust out of the arts & entertainment community due to being deeply involved in a sex trafficking ring. She’s attempting to deter individuals from seeing the real cause of her lack of employment with D.C. comics/ The CW (& btw she was fired- she hadn’t “left”) by insisting that there was some safety issue which would also pave the way for legal maneuverability to attempt to seek damages from them.
            To be perfectly honest considering her “extracurriculars” I wouldn’t be at all shocked if the injury had been in truth sustained somewhere other than on set.

          • Hahahaha, don’t worry, I don’t take anything you say seriously anyway, no one here does. Your comments clearly show what an unhinged conspiracy theory fanatic you are. But as I said, it’s quite entertaining to see you go off. So by any means, ramble on…

        • Autostraddle doesn’t let me reply to your last comment, so I hit reply to the one before again.
          “Sex trafficing ring”, really? That’s what you’re accusing Ruby of? I didn’t expect QAnon people on autostraddle, lol.

          • You’re either a fan girl or an individual paid to monitor/comment/sway the comments section crowds for the aforementioned individual. Either that or you are an individual that is so deeply metaphorically attuned to the flavor of a “celesbians” anus (circa The Human Centipede) that I think you’ve found yourself welded to it.
            I’m sorry that Ruby Rose being stated as being involved in EXACTLY what she is a part of is an abrasive concept to you.
            I’m sure that insinuating that an individuals very truthful statement is false gets you applause on small message boards where individuals play their social spin games but not all of us easily find themselves tripped up by these message board “power moves.” In addition to that please don’t attempt to paint every statement that you’re doubtful of as “QAnon” related. It’s a wasteful statement that if anything shows your ignorance to the subject matter and your own personal bias. Furthermore, the term “conspiracy” has a definition, whereas a “conspiracy theory” is that exact same thing that has yet to be publicly acknowledged or proven. Please learn the difference.
            G’day!

          • You’re an exceptionally sad person clinging to a false idol/celebrity and desperately seeking validation/inspiration from them. If you’d like to be impressed by someone then continue to grow into a better person as opposed to pouring your time, attention, & affections into a deeply troubled and destructive LGBTQIA celebrity.
            You lost my respect (and I’d hope many others as well) just by questioning the would be validity of my statement concerning Ruby Rose and her continued involvement in a sex trafficking ring.
            Avoid the belief that truth changes simply because of an individuals opinion. Please find a more decent individual to fawn over.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!