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Vas J Morgan EXCLUSIVE: TOWIE star accuses show of 'systematic racism'

por Anglea Mclain (2020-06-17)

3 years agoVas J Morgan has lashed out at TOWIE bosses in an impassioned statement, in which he details his experiences as the sole black male on the set of the reality show.

In a lengthy missive exclusively shared with the MailOnline, the TV personality, 31, accuses bosses of the ITV2 show of practising 'systemic racism', by forcing him to stereotypical story arcs and failing to support him through his personal battles.

Vas, who was on the show from 2014 to 2018, also takes aim at the series' social media team, who he claims deleted his posts from their Instagram account, after he defended the Black Lives Matter movement amid the worldwide civil rights protests.

Statement: Vas J Morgan has lashed out at TOWIE bosses in an impassioned statement, in which he details his experiences as the sole black male on the set of the reality show

Speaking of his social media experience, Vas wrote: 'I want to address a recent incident that has not sat well with me. It began with a post on the @Towie instagram account that was in support of the black lives matter movement.





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'It read "We stand in solidarity with our black colleagues, storytellers and viewers around the world because #blacklivesmatter".

'I was saddened but not shocked to see many racist comments from fans and viewers and felt the need to respond to one comment in particular that read "white lives matter ALSO". I simply replied "this comment is idiotic".

Stereotypes: The TV personality, 31, accuses bosses of the ITV2 show of practising 'systemic racism', by forcing him to stereotypical story arcs 

'While I don't believe that I am responsible for educating other people on racism or the meaning of the black lives matter movement, it is fundamental to understand that until black lives matter, all lives can't matter.

'While I have been conditioned to expect uneducated comments, like the one above I was deeply saddened by what happened next.

'My response was deleted within minutes. I posted another message, this time writing "@towie why are you deleting my". within minutes this too was deleted.

'I then took this off the public forum and direct messaged the account asking why my comments were being deleted but racist ones were still there; They responded "Hey Vas, I'll delete that comment now, I've only just seen this so not touching your comments."

'At the time I was going to let this go but its something that has been on my mind for the past few days. Because its tantamount to black voices being oppressed and silenced while they still left the racist comments.'

'This incident was reminiscent of similar experiences whilst filming The Only Way Is Essex,' he said, before going on to detail the challenges he allegedly faced.

Social media: Vas, who was on the show from 2014 to 2018, also takes aim at the series' social media team, who he claims deleted his posts from their Instagram account

TOWIE: The statement in question was issued on TOWIE's official Instagram account on June 1

'While I have always been proud to be one of the only black and gay reality TV stars on British Television, I have often felt conflicted over the way I was treated and the way I was portrayed,' he said.

'During the four years I filmed the show, I was almost never allowed to show any sides of my personality that wasn't angry, aggressive or negative.

'And while I repeatedly asked producers to allow me to show other sides of my personality; my funny, sensitive and loyal side, I was consistently put into situations that perpetuated the same racial stereotype that has been used to oppress and control black people.

'I often warned producers that I didn't feel comfortable arguing with women as regardless of my sexuality; I was a 6.2 feet tall black man. This concern was always ignored.' 

He continued: 'Countless times I've been in environments where I've had to endure racist language being used casually. The fact that it wasn't directed at me doesn't make it less painful to hear.

On set: He also spoke in detail of his experiences on the set, claiming he wasn't afforded the same room to develop as his white castmates, and received no off-screen support

'It was often said to me and I felt that I was the token representation of minority in our cast, there to be paraded out as a symbol but never treated equally to the other cast members and despite having some of the most progressive and talked about scenes on the show, my story ark was never nurtured the way that my white counterparts were.

'The invitation to bring family members on the show was never extended to me and when I came out publicly on national television and struggled offscreen with depression, substance abuse and addiction I was never offered support in the other ways my white cast mates were.

'Even now, during this time of global recognition for the black lives matter movement; Towie have failed to reach out. I would have appreciated having someone to hold my hand through some of those difficult journeys but I was left alone.'

Explaining his reasons for speaking out about his experiences now, Vas conceded: 'I have felt guilty for not sharing this part of my journey sooner.

'But like so many other people who are dependent on those in power, the fear of being blacklisted within my industry and never working again has always held me back.

Diversity: Tings magazine editor Vas spoke of the lack of diversity he saw among show bosses

'The experiences I had on the show are part of the systematic racism that for the first time has had a spotlight put on it on a global scale. This systematic discrimination starts from the top down.

'From leadership positions within the network, to the writers room, to our day to day producers. During my Time at Towie. I only ever worked with one black producer.

'Out of the dozens of producers I worked with; I never met one black executive, writer or anyone in a significant position of power.

'As the show approaches its 10 year anniversary it has made me think how disappointing it is to have been the only black male cast member.'

Concluding his statement on a positive note, the TV personality wrote: 'While I am telling my full truth, it is also important to add that I have worked with some incredible people as well. 

Speaking out: Within hours of his statement, former TOWIE castmember Danni Park-Dempsey, who appeared on the show from 2012 to 2013, spoke about her own experience

'People who have become some of my greatest friends and supporters; Luke, Paul, Hetal, Mesha, Anthea and Kate. As a network, as a show and as a society, we must do better.'

Within hours of his statement, former TOWIE castmember Danni Park-Dempsey, who appeared on the show from 2012 to 2013, spoke about her own experience as the first black woman to join the series.

Stating that she also encountered discrimination, she wrote on Instagram on Wednesday night: 'Reading Vas' statement on the racial issues he suffered on TOWIE really brought back issues I have tried to put behind me.

'I [want] to thank Vas for giving me the courage to speak about my own journey on the show and allowing me to address feelings I have buried for so long. Vas was the first and only BLACK GAY Guy and I was the first BLACK Lady on towie.' [sic]

Writing that her race was mentioned in headlines before she'd even appeared in the show, she admitted on seeing the public reaction to her casting: 'That night I cried myself to sleep reading all the racial comments that [were] written about me.'

Post: She released a lengthy statement to her Instagram account about her time on the show

She added: 'I recall thinking, "they have not even seen me on screen yet and that racial abuse has already started". From then on, the racial attacks continued. I was called "token girl" on set. I was edited to look like I was violent.

'I was continuously put in situations where I was not comfortable. I know that happens in tv but that shouldn't happen just because of the colour of my skin. None of my white cast mates were constantly put in those situations.

'Following an argument with another cast member on screen. I was questioned by the producer as to the backgrounds of my family members and asked if they were gang members. They told me that other cast member feels his life is in danger.

'I asked why would is it ok for everyone else to argue on here but when I do, a life in danger.

When TOWIE producers know something might erupt, they will always have 2 on 2 in a scene. I was put in a situation with 4-6 cast members.

Family: She claimed that a member of the production team asked her if she had any gang members in her family after she got into a confrontation with another member of the cast

'I don't want to say how that scene really went because I believe people change. And don;t want to open another can of worms.

'But what the nation saw was not the true story. And no one from TOWIE production protected me that night. During the time I was on towie I don't think I ever got to speak to the top executives at Lime.'

She continued: 'I was bullied so much on line that Police actually took action on one occasion. One account didn't stop sending racial stuff to me and then found my younger sister and started to tweet her racial stuff. No one from towie contacted me. 

'No one ever said anything about the racial stuff I had to take while doing the show. How I was made to feel while on towie made me walk away from TV.

Walking away: In the end, budding reality star Danielle said that she found the experience so traumatic that she walked away from her TV career

'A dream I had from a Child but a dream that was taken away from me because I felt that I have to fell my sole and had to grow extra skin to every get where I wanted to in TV and I was not prepared to do that my self respect. My mental health had to come before my dreams.' [sic]

A TOWIE spokesperson told MailOnline: 'We are concerned to have read Vas's recent comments about TOWIE, and got in touch with him yesterday evening in the hope we can discuss the issues he's raised at his earliest convenience.'

Vas' statement comes after he revealed that he has raised more than £20,000 in under 12 hours to help give members of black communities better access to mental health services. 

The star launched the initiative I Am Enough on Go Fund Me on Monday, with the likes of Paris Hilton, Joan Smalls, Nadia Essex and football player Ben Chilwell all donating.

In a recent exclusive chat with MailOnline, Vas, who is now two and a half years sober, shared his own journey with mental health and how, with help, he faced his own personal trauma head on after a failed suicide attempt. 

Killed:  Vas set up a fundraiser after George Floyd died on May 25, after Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck while he cried he couldn't breathe - his death catalysed global protests

Inner demons: Vas said he dealt with his depression by going out drinking every night (pictured with pal Rita Ora and her sister Elena in 2014)

Vas set up the fundraiser after the tragic death of George Floyd, who was filmed choking to death after white police officer Derek Chauvin, pinned the 46-year old to the ground by pressing a knee into the back of his neck. 

The television personality said: 'I decided to set it up because of everything that is going on right now. It has been very traumatic for me because it has brought up a lot of feelings of low self-worth and self-esteem because of the colour of my skin.'

The I Am Enough campaign will help members of the black community access the help they need to deal with trauma and other mental health related issues.

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) found black men were more likely than their White counterparts to experience a psychotic disorder in the last year. 

'I did some research and realised that black people are at a significantly higher rate of mental health issues which in turn leads to not only mental health issues but criminal activity,' the TINGS Magazine editor said.

Life: 'These are the things I have dealt with my whole entire life', Vas said (pictured as a child)

'I wanted to release something that was preventative and to help give black people the resources they need. I want to teach children at a young age, they are enough, they are valued and important.' 

Vas went on to explain how trolling on social media impacted his mental health, often being subjected to racial hate after he joined the cast of TOWIE in 2014.

'I wasn't aware of how intense the scrutiny of social media is, I was trolled quite early on and a lot of it was racial actually,' he said. 

'I also was struggling with my sexuality which I had difficulty coming to terms with. I was out drinking every night, partying every night. I didn't realise it was a problem until I started having severe suicidal thoughts around three years ago.'

Vas said these thoughts soon began to take over and he found himself asking "what am I living for?". 

'I woke up in a very dark place one morning and I realised enough was enough. There was a suicide attempt that day,' Vas said. 

United: Both Paris Hilton (left in February last year) and model Joan Smalls (right) pledged £1,000 to the cause 

The reality star was admitted to hospital and when he was released got in touch with his best friend, Topshop heiress, Chloe Green.  

Chloe, 29, took matters into her own hands and booked Vas on a flight to Thailand, where he spent four months in rehab.   

'It was in that time I realised drugs and alcohol wasn't the problem,' Vas said. 'It was me and the trauma I had suffered that was the problem.

'The trauma of coming out on national TV and https://set-magazine.com/pet-supplies/cats/ not being accepted by my mum. 

'The trauma of being black. The only black on a national TV show and in my world, generally. It was very difficult.

'Dealing with all that stuff and learning I am enough and I am perfect the way I am made me realise I didn't need drugs and alcohol. 

The next chapter: Vas said Chloe Green (pictured) helped him after his suicide attempt, booking him on a flight to Thailand where he attended a rehab centre for four months 

'That wasn't my problem, it was what I thought was my solution. When I realised I didn't have a problem that needed solving other than learning to love myself, it started my sober journey. It's been an amazing journey.'

Vas continued: 'We all suffer, we all feel the same. That's the beautiful thing to learn. 

'We are never alone, there is someone out there who is feeling the exact same way. That's what my platform is I Am Enough is all about.' 

Speaking about the thousands of pounds already raised, Vas said: 'It's crazy. At 1am in the morning I decided to start this. I woke up to £12,000 being in there and now I have over £20,000.

To donate visit: website

Important work: Vas said, 'I think it's very clear that George Floyd's death isn't going to be in vain. 'I want to oversee every penny that gets given to help these people'


Read more:

Fundraiser by Vas J Morgan : I AM ENOUGH FUND

ISSN: 1980-5861