Laila Rouass claims Hollyoaks bosses forced her to strip off

Hollyoaks accused of MORE backstage discrimination as ex-star Laila Rouass claims bosses forced her to strip off for raunchy calendar shoot leaving her feeling ‘dirty and weak’

  • Laila played a police detective on the show in 2003.
  • Her claims come after another Hollyoaks actress, Rachel Adedeji, accused the soap of racism
  • Lime Pictures, who produce the show, released a statement in response to Rachel’s claims
  • The statement read: ‘We must stamp out implicit bias which means calling out racism wherever and whenever we see it’

Having been slammed for being racist by actress Rachel Adedeji, soap Hollyoaks has now been accused of sexism, bullying and turning a blind eye to cast members who have complained.

The newest shock claims come from actress Laila Rouass, who played a police detective on the show in 2003.

Laila, 48 – who is married to snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan and has also featured on the likes of Footballers’ Wives, Holby City and Strictly Come Dancing – took to Twitter on Tuesday, after Hollyoaks producers Lime Pictures issued a statement in response to the racism claims.

Having been slammed for being racist by actress Rachel Adedeji, soap Hollyoaks has now been accused by Laila Rouass, who played a police detective on the show in 2003, of sexism

Lime’s statement asserted that they will be ‘working with unconscious bias trainers’ going forward, with Laila posting: ‘To those “at the top” – I spoke to @Hollyoaks when I was there about comments made to me… you did nothing. Absolutely nothing!’

She went on: ‘The fact is… you made me fear for my job so much so that I begged my agent to find me something else. You called me stupid, silly and so much more.

‘My agent found me something else, I left and you made me pay 10’s of thousands of pounds to get out of my contract a couple of months early despite my experiences there…

‘When I told you I didn’t want to feature in you annual calendar where we instructed to wear almost nothing, you booked my flight to Spain anyway. Your reasoning… “we don’t have anyone that looks like you on the show”. The pressure you put on me made me feel helpless and stuck.

Shock claims: The newest accusations come from Laila, 48, who claimed the soap had bullyied her and turned a blind eye to cast members who have complained [she is pictured in a shoot the following year for Footballers’ Wives]

In character: She played Dale Jackson in the long-running C4 soap

No holding back: She took to Twitter on Tuesday, after Hollyoaks producers Lime Pictures issued a statement in response to the racism claims

‘I got on that plane, I took the photos, I felt dirty and weak afterwards but luckily I got another job, paid my way out of the contract (which I’ve never heard of any actor doing) And I wasn’t featured in the calendar. It was the best money I spent.

‘So now you’re going to do something about it. I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear that. But the truth be told… where were you when I reached out? I can’t begin to imagine what other stories may surface but that was my experience. I managed 8 months and it was enough.

‘On the bright side, I was inspired by the very young cast… I was inspired by their professionalism and their zest. Their kindness and the way they welcomed me has stayed with me since. #dobetter’

MailOnline has approached Lime Pictures for further comment.

Real-life: Laila is married to snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan [pictured in 2016]

Actress: She has also featured on the likes of Footballers’ Wives [pictured in 2004] and Holby City

Laila took to Twitter in 2018 to reveal another horrific ordeal – that she was once raped, and that the police advised her not to take it further.

Commenting on comedian Bill Cosby’s jailing for sex crimes, she revealed that her attacker was someone she knew.

However, she said that after she later ‘found the courage’ to report the assault to the police, she was advised that a conviction was ‘unlikely’.

‘It’s encouraging to see Cosby jailed for his crimes,’ she tweeted. ‘I was raped by someone I knew and once I found the courage to report it to the police a year or so later I was advised by them not to take it any further because it would be unlikely to get a conviction.’ 

Dancing queen: She took part on Strictly Come Dancing in 2009

Exit: She played Sahira Shah on Holby City in 2011

She added: ‘I shed so many tears.’ 

Lime Pictures’ full statement regarding the racism row this week read: ‘Hollyoaks has been deeply shocked and saddened by issues that have been brought to our attention over the weekend.

‘Lime Pictures strives to have zero tolerance of racism or any form of discrimination across all of its shows but it is clear we have further work to do. 

Troubling: Laila took to Twitter in 2018 to reveal another horrific ordeal – that she was once raped, and that the police advised her not to take it further

Honest: Commenting on comedian Bill Cosby ‘s jailing for sex crimes, she revealed that her attacker was someone she knew 

‘We must stamp out implicit bias which means calling out racism wherever and whenever we see it.  

‘We will continue to add to our action plan as we continue and broaden our dialogue with cast and staff.’

The show detailed a series of steps they have launched in order to ‘stamp out discrimination.’

Changes: The show detailed a series of steps they have launched in order to ‘stamp out discrimination’ in a statement

They wrote: ‘We are reaching out to all of our cast and staff that have raised matters to make sure that we address individual issues and concerns.

‘We have asked all cast, staff and freelancers to share with us any further issues of concern or instances of unacceptable behaviour that they have not previously raised.

‘We are working with unconscious bias trainers to augment Lime’s all staff training to help address concerns raised by cast and staff.

‘All BAME staff, freelancers and cast will be offered mentoring from Lime’s senior management.’

Slammed: Rachel, 28, who plays Lisa Loveday on the soap, took to her Twitter to say she doesn’t agree with Hollyoaks’ previous post addressing the BLM movement [pictured last year]

They continued: ‘We will build on our work towards making Lime as diverse and inclusive as possible across all aspects of recruitment and talent retention, on and off screen.

‘Lime’s BAME writers and directors schemes will be reviewed and augmented to drive greater inclusivity within the industry.

‘We are undertaking an immediate and in depth review of company and cast liaison across Lime.

‘We will be producing a Hollyoaks podcast where our black cast will share their experiences on racism to their audience.

‘We are very conscious that we need to do more and are committed to making changes that we need to make. 

‘The onus is upon our company collectively and us all as individuals within our community to tackle racism, and it is a responsibility which all of us here at Hollyoaks are taking on fully.’ 

The statement comes after Rachel Adedeji slammed the show’s response to the recent furore over the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The star, 28, who plays Lisa Loveday on the Channel 4 soap, took to her Twitter to say she doesn’t agree with Hollyoaks’ recent post addressing the movement. 

Rachel said their response wasn’t progressive before revealing she was aware of racial slurs and injustices happening on set. 

Racism: Rachel said their response wasn’t progressive before revealing a slew of times she was aware of racial slurs and injustices happening on set

Hollyoaks uploaded a video of actress Kelle Bryan, who plays Martine Deveraux, discussing the movement’s issues.  

A recent surge in interest of the Black Lives Matter movement was kickstarted by the senseless killing of George Floyd, who died after a white policeman, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. 

Chauvin has now been charged with second-degree murder. Floyd was initially arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit 20-dollar bill.  

Kelle, 45, said: ‘As you may have noticed, we have been silent across all our social media platforms in direct response to the horrendous atrocities that have taken place in the USA with the loss of George Floyd. 

‘Black lives really do matter but don’t take our silence as inaction. We have been busy behind the scenes having lots of really important conversations. 

‘We will be kickstarting with a podcast all about racism – how we tackle it, how we face it and most importantly, how we overcome it.’ 

But Kelle revealed on Monday’s Loose Women that she has received racial abuse from trolls since speaking about measures.

The Eternal star, 45, detailed how she has been working with Hollyoaks bosses to launch a new forum for the black cast to report any racism they have been subjected to on set, which she announced in the video. 

Saying she had received racist remarks from trolls over the weekend since taking part in a video for the soap, Kelle said: ‘It’s been really difficult. I’ve been seen as an Uncle Tom, a coconut, a clown, a puppet to be used.

It’s been a difficult weekend, and for the whole of the black cast of Hollyoaks, we’ve been dealing with our own personal journey and with the tragedy of George Floyd. It’s hurtful and I’m a real person.’ 

Of her own experience on set of the soap, she said: ‘Way before the Black Lives Matter movement took place I was able to articulate my grievances and concerns within Hollyoaks.

Discussion: Hollyoaks uploaded a video of actress Kelle Bryan, who plays Martine Deveraux, discussing the issues

‘I’ve been seen as a puppet’: But on Monday’s Loose Women, she said that she has received ‘hurtful’ racist abuse from trolls since launching the forum for her black co-stars on Hollyoaks

‘I had taken them through the HR procedures, and said what my feeling were and making sure those changes are implemented, not just heard but implemented.’

Discussing how cast members can discuss their grievances, Kelle said: ‘There are changes that are happening. I’m really grateful that our voices are finally being heard.

‘There are changes in terms of influence over scripts, the direction of storylines, and also having a podcast, which will give black cast members the opportunity to speak from the heart about their own experiences and help to educate our audience.

‘It’s really important. It’s a series of podcasts that are going to happen over the next few weeks. It’s a slow and steady process but I also want to make sure that it’s consistent systemic changes. 

Forum: Kelle (pictured with co-star Imran Adams) has been working with Hollyoaks bosses to launch a new way for the black cast to report any racism they have been subjected to on set

‘In order for that to happen, these conversations, which are very difficult, have to happen first,’ she concluded.  

Meanwhile, Rachel has said she is ‘disappointed’ and directly called the show out over racist incidents she says happened. 

She wrote: ‘Did Black Lives Matter when I was told ”You’re all the same” by a makeup artist you employed, and remains in employment till this day?

‘Did Black Lives Matter when a number of female black actors were forced to drastically change their hair because if not, the viewers ”would not be able to tell them apart”? 

Angry: Rachel has said: ‘Did Black Lives Matter when I was told ”You’re all the same” by a makeup artist you employed, and remains in employment till this day?’ (pictured last year) 

‘Do Black Lives Matter when my fellow black cast mates are deemed angry, aggressive and too vocal?

‘Did Black Lives Matter when we were referred to as ”b****ies” by a senior member of the production team? 

‘Do Black Lives really matter to you if over the last four years at Hollyoaks, I have only worked with ONE black director? 

‘Honestly, the list goes on. Having a black cast member speak on behalf of Hollyoaks to show that the work is being done is not as progressive as you think. 

‘As a matter of fact, very little is being done behind the scenes. Unfortunately Hollyoaks’ response seems to me performative and disingenuous. 

Support: Actress Mandip Gill, who played Phoebe McQuee in Hollyoaks until she left in 2015, replied to Rachel’s statement with a series of clapping emojis

‘It starts within the work place. Systemic changes must be put into practice. Working at Hollyoaks is mostly positive but the experiences I have encountered are a constant reminder of how difficult it is being a black woman in the industry. 

‘I am no longer standing for it. Putting out a podcast on racism and asking your black cast members to teach you how to tackle these issues is the bare minimum.

‘THINK. DO BETTER.

‘I hope Hollyoaks delivers the same energy when #BlackLivesMatter is no longer trending.’ 

Speaking out: Hollyoaks’ Amanda Clapham, left, has hit out the show’s bosses for showing ‘no empathy’ after co-star Rachel, spoke out about experiencing racism on the set

Actress Mandip Gill, who played Phoebe McQuee in Hollyoaks until she left in 2015, replied to Rachel’s statement with a series of clapping emojis. 

And Karl Collins, who played Rachel’s onscreen father Louis Loveday in Hollyoaks until 2019, showed his support and praised her ‘bravery’. 

He wrote: ‘Well….. it will come as no surprise that I love this woman who I affectionately call ‘darta!’ ‘I am so proud of her bravery!’ 

Hollyoaks’ Amanda Clapham has hit out the show’s bosses for showing ‘no empathy’ after co-star Rachel spoke out about experiencing racism on the set.


Missive: Former Hollyoaks castmember Amanda took to Twitter and Instagram on Sunday to implore her former colleagues to put forth a more concerted effort

Amanda, who portrayed Holly Cunningham on the show from 2013 to 2019, took to Twitter and Instagram on Sunday to implore her former colleagues to put forth a more concerted effort, amid protests over racial injustice sweeping the globe.

Addressing executive producer Bryan Kirkwood and ‘senior members of staff’ the 29-year-old actress also shared examples of the ‘many microaggressions’ she’d allegedly witnessed during her time on on set:

She started her missive: ‘I loved my time at Hollyoaks. It was an amazing experience for me; I learnt a lot, I made great friends and it changed my life. I’m a blonde, blue eyed, white girl.

Response: After she posted her letter, 28-year-old Rachel, who plays Lisa Loveday on the Channel 4 soap, tweeted in response, ‘I love you! Thank you for speaking out xx’

‘I have a lot of love for Hollyoaks and plenty of friends that still work there, which is why I want you to do the right thing and why I am saying this. On your response to Rachel Adedeji on Instagram, I saw no empathy at all.

‘You could have taken less time to respond if that’s what you needed but this really does not sit right. She has told you about many encounters that will have been traumatising for her and you refer to her messages as “comments”‘.

‘Let me be clear, I have learnt a lot this week, like I’m sure many of us have. I thought I was anti-racist when in fact I wasn’t quite there. It’s true, we all need to change.

‘Please know this is coming from the heart. I hope you respond by apologising to Rachel. 

‘I want you to say that you are going to improve by proactively making changes within the building in each department. It’s the conversation that needs to be had.’

She continued: ‘I was on set with Rachel not long after she joined the show and a makeup artist brought out a face powder for her. The powder had “dark” written on it and it was 2 shades darker than Rachel’s skin complexion.

‘When she asked if she could have the correct powder to match her skin tone she was told, no and that that was all they had. I remember saying to Rachel at the time that it didn’t look right at all and I could tell Rachel felt she had no choice.

‘This shouldn’t have been the case, and I knew then, what I know now, I would have raised my voice in support.’

Giving another alleged example, she said: ‘There were other black cast members that had to suffer this too. I worked with an actor and friend who was in my opinion, disproportionately “told off” especially when he first joined the show.

 Role: Amanda portrayed Holly Cunningham on the show from 2013 to 2019. Pictured in 2013

‘For example, a group of us would be talking or messing about and he would get picked out. I remember correcting the members of staff, saying we were all involved and my friend used to just take it and say, “Don’t worry about it Amanda.”

‘There were many microaggressions like this and I couldn’t believe how well he handled them… The examples given are a snapshot of the behaviours I witnessed on a regular basis.

‘Whilst I’m not in a position to assign blame on any individual, change is systemically needed for the company as a whole to grow as an inclusive example for its viewers and community at large.

‘The future for Hollyoaks can be and should be better for all people of colour, as a company you can all work on that together.’

‘You do so much good with your storylines and I was lucky to be a part of that,’ she concluded. ‘So please listen to those that have spoken up, so that Hollyoaks can be a positive experience for everyone.’

After she posted her letter, 28-year-old Rachel, who plays Lisa Loveday on the Channel 4 soap, tweeted in response: ‘I love you! Thank you for speaking out xx.’  

A Hollyoaks spokesperson previously said: ‘We are really concerned to read Rachel’s comments on social media about Hollyoaks this evening. We will be in touch with Rachel directly.’ 

Earlier in the week, Hollyoaks bosses announced production crew will return to the set in Liverpool this week and filming will resume in full from July. 

Production on the soap was stopped at the end of March just before the UK went into lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Channel 4 show, which is currently airing two nights a week, will then increase its output to four episodes a week from September with an aim to return to its full five episodes a week in 2021. 

‘Think’: Rachel called on the show to ‘think’ and ‘do better’ before saying she hoped they would continue to show the same energy from now on

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