ENTERTAINMENT

Sharon Johal says she’s been “quite literally bowled” by fan response

The Neighbours star shares an inspiring message in light of racism allegations on set.

Neighbours star Sharon Johal has shared an inspiring message to fans in wake of the show’s racism scandal.

WATCH: Sharon Johal and April Rose Pengilly at the TV Week Logies 2019 Red Carpet

In case you missed it, earlier this month, Shareena Clanton, who will appear in an upcoming guest role on the hit long-running soap, alleged on Instagram that she had experienced racism while on set.

Her allegations were later supported by Meyne Wyatt, a First Nations actor who played Nate Kinksi from 2014 to 2016, Spider-Man and Crazy Rich Asians star Remy Hii, and Sharon Johal.

Sharon, who left the soap last month, claimed that she had experienced a “painful” four years of “direct, indirect and casual racism” from her fellow cast members.

And, while Fremantle Asia Pacific, the studio behind Neighbours, is taking these allegations seriously and undergoing an investigation, Sharon took to Instagram to thank fans for their support in listening to her and her co-stars.

Sharon Johal
Sharon Johal (pictured with co-star Ryan Moloney) extends her love to fans who’ve supported and checked in on her after she came forward with her claims. (Credit: Instagram/ Ten)

“I’m slowly coming out of the darkness that has been the last few weeks, but in order to do that, I had to ask for help, accept the support of others and truly “listen” to the goodness that is also out there,” she said on Instagram. 

“I also had to be diligent in exercising self-care and that included talking to the right people, protecting my energy, staying off socials to avoid the trolls and hectic backlash, and doing activities that serve me – for instance like light exercise, no drinking and “feel-good” sessions here.”

For many Neighbours fans of colour – and merely other BIPOC people – the claims that have emerged from the Neighbours set are hard to swallow. Amidst the systemic injustice towards First Nations Australians and Black people nationally and globally, the claims are just some of a long line of list of allegations within the entertainment industry in recent months. 

Like them, Sharon says, “it has been a constant roller-coaster of emotions and pain” but the support she’s had from her community and people who believe her has been healing to say the least. 

Sharon Johal
“It has been a constant roller-coaster of emotions and pain however I am finding peace and I wanted to thank each of you that have reached out to me…” (Credit: Instagram.)

“I am finding peace and I wanted to thank each of you that have reached out to me by phone, text, hugs, flowers, messages, DMs, comments and online contact. Of course, I’ve been disappointed by a few people who haven’t reached out or supported, but there’s always inevitably collateral damage when systems and people are challenged and sometimes self-interest surpasses greater good or big picture ideals.”

“That, I expected. What I didn’t, though, was the crazy huge and overwhelming amount of support for the cause (and me) that I had hoped existed, but quite literally bowled me over. That, and the emotion I’m overcome with as to how lucky I am to have the team and village I have, who have supported me day and night, and the big love that is out there in wanting to make the world a better place.”

“It’s getting me through and because of that, as emotionally spent as I am, I’ll keep working to make positive change. So much love to all of you.”

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“I am finding peace and I wanted to thank each of you that have reached out to me by phone, text, hugs, flowers, messages, DMs, comments and online contact.” (Credit: Instagram)

You can learn more about the alleged racism scandal on the Neighbours set here. In a statement to our sister site, New Idea, Fremantle and Network Ten also responded to the claims. 

A spokesperson for Fremantle Asia Pacific said: “Fremantle is committed to providing an environment where employees and others in the workplace are treated fairly and with respect, and are free from unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and bullying. We do not tolerate behaviour that does not align to our Anti-Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Harassment & Bullying Policy and take all complaints very seriously, investigating all allegations fairly and thoroughly. We have asked Campfire X, creative leaders in Indigenous Cultural Protocols, to conduct an independent review of Neighbours and the production process.”

A Network 10 spokesperson also responded to the claims saying: “Network 10 does not tolerate discriminatory or racist behaviour in any form. We work closely with all our production partners to ensure everyone has access to a diverse, inclusive and safe working environment. We support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against racism and discrimination. We will work with Fremantle, and all cast and crew, to investigate and ensure Neighbours continues to foster a fully inclusive environment.”

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