Nonbinary Extra Quit Fantastic Beasts Over Queerphobia

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In its first week in theaters, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald already has a lot going against it: author JK Rowling suing her assistant, casting Johnny Depp again after he was implicated in the #MeToo movement, and grossing lower than any film in the Harry Potter franchise during its opening weekend.

And now, a nonbinary extra has come forward about what they allege was a misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic environment on set. Jamie Windust is a London-based model who was cast as an extra in the film. In a Twitter thread, Windust opened up about the hyper-masculine atmosphere that led them to quit in the first week.

 

 

(But have no fear, Windust maintains that Ezra Miller was just as charming as ever.)

 

 

“Just the language that they were using, now that I look back on it, was quite alarming,” Windust told OUT. “They were basically asking for supernatural, weird looking, androgynous people, which I understand that I do have that look. I think because I was so new to the industry, and because I had just started, I didn’t want to look like I was ungrateful.”

When they started filming, Windust was immediately gendered as male. While sharing changing rooms with male extras, they were subjected to particularly misogynistic and queerphobic behavior.

“It's almost fraternity-esque...I would hear all the disgusting kind of chat about women and the homophobic slurs around other queer people who maybe were expressing more visibly queer,” they said.

Windust clarifies that the behavior came more from other extras than the crew. But as they claim the crew itself wasn't very diverse, it's easy to see how this behavior could get overlooked and even permitted on set.

Since leaving Fantastic Beasts, Windust has also parted ways with the agency that cast them in the film. They’re now signed with Crumb Agency in London, which has a section of their site that specifically caters to nonbinary talent, rather than forcing them to choose between the “male” and “female” segments of their client offerings.

 

 

“My new agency makes sure that people know my pronouns, know what to say, what not to say, and that the environment I'm in is safe,” says Windust.

Although Windust has gone on to more welcoming work environments in their career, this instance is only part of a larger problem. As Hollywood is still run mostly by cis, straight, white men (according to 50/50 by 2020, 94% of Hollywood film execs are white, and 81% of board members in Hollywood are men), movements like #TimesUp and voices like Windust’s continue to call attention to these issues. Meanwhile, big-budget movies like the Harry Potter franchise continue to cast accused abusers, or repeat the bad working behaviors of years’ past.

“There's definitely a movement in Hollywood, trying to find the trendiest topic or something that is going to engage the audience by using queer people. But, these industries are not run by queer people. So the ways in which they use our identities is incredibly commercialized and commodified for sales,” Windust says. “I think the best thing to do is allow trans or nonbinary people into that world, in front of and behind the camera, so that they can create work on films that are actually inclusive.”

OUT has reached out to Warner Bros. for comment, and will update this article should one be provided.

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