MTV and Lighthearted Entertainment are facing backlash from previous Are You The One cast members. Season 5 stars of the popular matchmaking reality show came forward claiming the producers of the show spent the entirety of their season focused on bringing more entertainment to the show – and in response causing them to lose out on a million dollars. Cast members also confirmed that there were issues of a white cast member using racially charged language toward a Black cast mate. In an exclusive interview with the Daily Beast, Tyranny Todd said she saw cast mate Carolina Duerte use the n-word repeatedly in front of another cast mate, Derrick Henry. “She’s like, ‘Well, we say all the time where I’m from, it’s nothing,’” Todd told the Daily Beast. “She literally was like ‘N-word, N-word, N-word’ in his face. I’m Black and I take that very offensively. We were livid that we were so disrespected like that. They did nothing, they just made us be quiet, not talk about it. They were like, ‘Oh she didn’t mean it.’”
The production company has been under continued investigation after a fellow Season 5 cast member, Gianna Hammer, shared her sexual assault experience via TikTok. Hammer says she was put on low dosage antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication and was warned by her doctor to never take the pills while drinking or the effects of alcohol would be heightened. She recalled during filming a producer giving her a pill, which she claims they initially denied but later admitted they administered to try to calm her down. She says she was told that she had gotten into bed with a male cast member and other contestants eventually heard her saying “no” to the costar. They stated that “nothing happened” but because Hammer was uncomfortable, her other cast mates pulled her out of the bed.
MTV’s reality television shows and production leaders aren’t unfamiliar with racism and sexual assault claims made during filming. Former The Challenge star, Tonya Cooley, sued MTV for a sexual assault she dealt with during the filming of Inferno II. Cooley filed a lawsuit on October 27, 2011, against Bunim/Murray Productions (BMP), MTV and fellow cast members Kenny Santucci and Evan Starkman. Moreover, MTV’s The Challenge came under fire for derogatory terms spewed by Camilla Nakagawa towards Black cast mate, Leroy Garrett. Nakagawa was eventually banned from returning to the show but went on to win the season after using the racial slurs. With many former cast members choosing to speak out about the treatment they received in previous years, MTV’s going to have to own up to the harm they put on its stars guised as entertainment.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).