Nicole Beharie says she was “blacklisted” after Sleepy Hollow exit

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Nicole Beharie has never really spoken about her shocking exit from Fox's Sleepy Hollow at the end of its third season. Beharie portrayed Abigail Mills, a police lieutenant turned-FBI agent, who worked closely alongside Ichabod Krane (Tom Mison) to explore supernatural occurrences and prevent the end of days. The series ran from 2013-2017 and her chemistry with Mison was a highlight of the show which made her character a fan favorite. The show ran one more season after her exit but it was ultimately canceled and fans speculated exactly why Beharie took leave from the show. Beharie has been making the rounds promoting her new film MISS JUNETEENTH and she's revealing that she was "blacklisted" and labeled "difficult" after the exit, despite having a health issue that prompted her departure. 

While speaking with the "New York Times", Beharie admitted that she has shied away from speaking about her exit from Sleepy Hollow but now, as she says, the "resentment" and "bitterness" is out of her system, she can get candid about what exactly went down:

"My co-star and I both got sick at the same time with the same illness and had different treatments. He was allowed to go on leave for a month and I had to continue working. There was a smokescreen of me getting my own episode, titled 'Mama.' By the end of that episode, I started to fall apart. They shut down production for two weeks because I got sick. They sent in lots of doctors, and I had daily checkups to make sure I was actually sick because they had to get production going. Every doctor said I wasn't doing well and that I needed rest. That is not what they wanted to hear."

Beharie started to really feel the toll the illness was taking on her but production didn't seem to understand the severity of it. The actress ultimately obtained a lawyer to work out decreasing her hours "to work through it" but the situation grew more serious when she developed an autoimmune condition and bacterial infection, C. difficile. The infection was said to have had Beharie on eight different medications at once. Beharie believes that her condition but love from the fans became a bone of contention with various people on the show:

"Sometimes I think that some people I was working with didn't like that I was unwell but loved by the audience. I would think they'd support that. But everyone of color on that show was seen as expendable and eventually let go."

Beharie goes on to say that she believes a lot of what happened wasn't personal but it had a lot to do with how structures were set up at the network. The end result (SPOILER ALERT INCOMING!!!!!) had her character being killed off at the end of season 3 which shocked fans and led to the trending hashtag #AbbieDeservesBetter:

"There's a lot of pressure in a situation like that where so many people are relying on you alone to get up and get going. I feel like it's taken me the last few years to really see clearly that it wasn't personal, it's about the way that these structures are set up. It was very difficult to talk about at the time because I wanted to get back to work. But I was labeled as problematic and blacklisted by some people."

Beharie did go on to say that the Sleepy Hollow exit did impact her career moving forward. The story about her departure from the Fox show seemed to follow her when trying to book other jobs and Beharie says those negative labels travel with you even if they're unwarranted:

"When you're a person of color or a woman of any race, you can be labeled in a way that can change the trajectory of your life, health, and career. I lost out on a lot of jobs and opportunities because of how somebody labeled me. I tried to get work afterwards and people were like, 'We heard you were difficult' but no one can say I was late or unprofessional or negative."

Fox hasn't spoken on Beharie's recent claims but when the decision was made to kill off her character during season 3, Fox released a statement about the character's death calling it a "very dramatic ending", "bold move for the show" and "poignant conclusion." Beharie seems to be at peace working with better collaborators in recent years and knowing how intuitive the fans were about her exit back then makes her grateful and she feels like she has the voice necessary to discuss all of this now:

"There was a fan base that, without me even really saying anything or anybody knowing what was really going on, picked up on something. I didn't really have time to take it in because we were working 16-18 hour days. And once I left and heard about everything, I didn't have the voice yet. I was too busy healing to really take it in."

I actually watched this show and thought the series lost something special when they lost Beharie. The show thrived on her chemistry with her co-star Tom Mison and once that was gone, the show wasn't the same. It's a shame the network allegedly didn't treat her fairly while she was going through a serious illness which ultimately led to her departure from the show but hopefully, she's at peace with it now and on to bigger and better things.

Source: New York Times

About the Author

3191 Articles Published