American Gods actor Orlando Jones claimed earlier this month that he’d been fired from the Starz series due to issues related to race. Jones played the character of Mr. Nancy in the series. As of the show's second season, he was also a producer and writer on the show. Jones has claimed that the American Gods production company Freemantle has problems with race. In a new interview with Geeks WorldWide, Jones says an example of those race issues was when the studio didn't want to pay him for his writing, which was primarily focused on the show's characters of color such as Mr. Nancy, Ibis, and Bilquis.
"In the season two opening there’s a scene with Bilquis, Ibis, and Nancy so I rewrote and began writing those characters more often," Jones says. "They asked me. Neil Gaiman asked me, and then the EP Jessie Alexander asked me, and then the studio and network asked me to continue. I started doing notes with the studio alone with the showrunner’s permission, of course. I was very involved and they begged me to do it. They just didn’t want to pay me. I told them I could not go against my guild. It’s a writer guild show and I’m a member. They had to pay me. They said no. I said, 'That’s kinda racist. You paid all the white guys and they are at home…' The guild requires that. That’s why it was so stupid for them to be so angry with me about it.
"I know that Fremantle doesn’t care about the characters of color on the show. They’ve said it to me. The showrunners are told to focus on Wednesday and Shadow Moon, but really, Wednesday… That’s why in the season two opener, Mr. Wednesday is suddenly telling the story of American Gods. The story is supposed to be told from Shadow Moon’s perspective, not Wednesday. They didn’t write for us cause the openly say brown faces don’t sell in Europe.
Freemantle released a statement following Jones' original accusations. It says, "The storylines of American Gods have continually shifted and evolved to reflect the complex mythology of the source material. Mr. Jones' option was not picked up because Mr. Nancy, among other characters, is not featured in the portion of the book we are focusing on within Season 3. Several new characters, many of which have already been announced, will be introduced into Shadow Moon's world that will further contribute to the show's legacy as one of the most diverse series on television."
American Gods is now the subject of an investigation by the Actors Guild. Freemantle plans to continue with production on season three of American Gods as planned.