Wanda Sykes Breaks Her Silence on Roseanne’s Racism and Quitting the Show
After the cancelation of Roseanne, comedian Wanda Sykes has broken her silence on Roseanne’s racism during an in-depth interview with LGBTQ activist Ashlee Marie Preston. The Wanda Sykes interview, which is the first episode of Season 2 of queer streaming network Revry’s SHOOK with Ashlee Marie Preston, reveals the comedian’s revelations about Roseanne Barr, quitting the show, equal pay, turning down Netflix via Monique’s deal and raising her family.
First, Preston chats with Sykes about how she got involved with the project to begin with. “Well, the showrunner Bruce Helford, he was a showrunner for me for my first sitcom, Wanda at Large,” Sykes explains. “Great relationship with him. I adore Bruce, and he also did a couple seasons of the original Roseanne, and he would tell us stories of all the craziness and everything.”
Sykes continues: “So when this came up, he called me and said, ‘This is top secret. They are doing a reboot. They got the original cast. Would you come and over just consult? I just need you like a couple days a week. Would you do it?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely.'”
“The first season was great,” Wanda Sykes says of the Roseanne reboot. “The room was amazing. I thought we got to cover a lot of topics and have real discussion about things. You know, like health care, prescription drugs, her being afraid of the Muslim neighbors. We did a lot of good things I was excited about.”
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Preston applauds Sykes for quitting the show before ABC announced it would be dropping it.
“To me it was like a no brainer,” Sykes says. “I saw the tweet, actually, that morning. I was emailing Bruce to let him know I wasn’t going to be there for the first two weeks because I was doing this show in New York City, so when I pick up my phone to email him I am seeing all this crap about what she said about Valerie Jarrett.”
“I thought about it,” Wanda Sykes says. “I reached out to Bruce, I reached out to Tom Warner and it was just kind of like crickets. To me it felt like each minute that went by that I wasn’t saying anything [was] just wrong. The Titanic is sinking, and they are playing the violins. Nope. I am pulling the parachute on this. The plane is going down. To me it was a no-brainer. And I didn’t know what they were going to do with the show. I just knew that I wanted out.”
Wanda Sykes adds that while she knew Roseanne Barr didn’t like Obama, Sykes had no problem working with someone who had different political ideals than her. The comedian says, “I knew she did not like President Obama. I knew that. I knew that, but I am OK with that. We can still work together. You can have your opinions, and I can have mine. I wasn’t aware of all the craziness.”
“The Valerie Jarrett thing became something else,” Sykes said, referring to the tweet that exposed Roseanne’s racism for all to see. “Oh, this isn’t just not liking Obama. This is more of a Trump thing. This is just my belief. She felt like it would be OK to tweet that because Trump is in power. He says a lot of egregious things, and he gets away with it. ‘I am on top right now in the TV world, so I can say stuff and get away with it. This is normal now.'”
Sykes concludes by applauding ABC and the network’s entertainment president Channing Dungey: “They left a lot of money on the table. But I applaud them for doing it.”