Fantastic Beasts 2 set was ‘homophobic,’ claims non-binary extra
Model Jamie Windust has bad memories of their first job as a film extra, on the set of Warner Bros.’ Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
Windust denounced the working conditions as “atrocious” and said “misogyny, homophobia, transphobia” were rampant on set in a thread posted on Twitter on Monday (November 19), which has since been retweeted more than 7,000 times and received 23,000 likes.
“I want to use this opportunity not to call out people, but to now for the future ensure we try and create safe working environments for trans/NB people where sometimes they’re forgotten,” Windust wrote in another post on November 20.
Fantastic Beasts set ‘segregated’ men and women
The gender non-binary model, activist and writer, found the Fantastic Beasts set to be highly divided along traditional gender lines—particularly when it came to the changing rooms, with no other option other than the “male” or “female” categories.
“I talked to people on the team about it, but they did not really seem to care. They just said we have segregated sections, and that is what we are going to stick to,” Windust tells PinkNews.
“On set, we were split between men and women,” the model recalls.
“When we arrived, we’d get dressed and be segregated into male and female, and then there would be one big tent where we could mingle.
“There were people there who did appear queer and some of the men would use slurs towards them.”
— Jamie Windust
“But as soon as we had to go somewhere, men would line up and then women would line up. It was like school, we’d be segregated in two lines. If they ever needed to do things, they’d ask: ‘Can the men do this, and the women do this,'” Windust says.
When in the presence of cisgender—a term denoting people whose gender identity matches the one assigned at birth—men, Windust claims they heard them make “very homophobic” comments.
“Physically presenting, I was dressed in a three-piece suit, I had no make-up on, no nails, you couldn’t see my hair, so actually [I] did not appear that queer,” Windust explains.
“There were people there who did appear queer and … some of the men would use slurs towards them, or generally being dismissive of them because they were gay, or incredibly misogynistic about women and being very derogatory.”
The model, who left the job after a week, did not feel comfortable speaking out against the behaviour they witnessed due to this being their first job, needing the money, and also not knowing how many other people on set felt the same way they did.
“I felt outnumbered because I felt I didn’t need to make a scene. In terms of non-binary people there, I didn’t know if I was the only one, and it could have looked like I was causing a scene because, in the grand scheme of things, they aren’t going to listen to me,” Windust says.
Ugly Models, an agency that specialises in character modelling that divides their talent in categories such as “girls,” “men” and “specials” on its website, employed several LGBT+ extras on the set of Fantastic Beasts film.
Head booker Cory tells PinkNews the allegations were surprising to hear, as the film set was meant to be extremely diverse.
“Fantastic Beasts booked pretty much all of our alternative LGBT and alternative models for lots of scenes in the film, and we never had any feedback from any of them regarding any negative comments. I’m surprised to hear that, as the whole set was full of alternative people, it’s the ‘normal’ people that would have stood out,” they say.
“If any of our artists do ever feel uncomfortable on any of our jobs then they are told to contact us straight away so we can deal with it then and there. This very rarely happens as the models are fully briefed to what the job entails prior to the shoot dates,” the booker adds.
A larger issue than just the Fantastic Beasts set
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Windust hopes their experience can highlight the importance for both agencies and production companies to become more aware of the needs of the diverse talent they manage and to provide more inclusive experiences.
“What everybody is trying to do, whether in fashion or film … people are catalysing off queerness to make their films more inclusive. But actually what we care about is that, behind the scenes, there are LGBT people that are being involved in the process, throughout the whole process,” they tell PinkNews.
Lauren Gregory, director at Crumb agency—which is now representing Windust—said the company’s structure changed to dedicate a specific section to non-binary models.
“It would be completely incorrect to try and categorise them in any other way and we wouldn’t be doing our job properly,” she tells PinkNews.
Gregory says that it is the agency’s responsibility to ensure the client’s and the models’ expectations and needs align—for instance, reminding the client of the model’s preferred pronouns and that they need to provide adequate changing areas, as well as being in touch with the model should any uncomfortable situation arise.
She says: “Basic changes within the industry need to respect humans as human beings. I was a model myself for nearly a decade and know all to well how horrible it is to be asked to get changed in a completely inappropriate situation.”
Warner Bros. did not respond to a request for comment.