Employees of a Philadelphia Old Navy say that after they spent hours making the store presentable for an upcoming episode of Queer Eye, workers of color were replaced by white employees from other stores when the cameras were rolling.
On August 21, Old Navy employee Monae Alvarado published a Facebook post claiming “Today they brought all these workers from other store around the region (West Chester, Mount Pocono, and Deptford NJ) and they were all white. They had us standing in the back not to be seen while the other workers from another store get to work on our floor like it’s their store” after she and others had worked all night to get the location ready.
In response to Alvarado’s post and coverage of the story, Netflix was quick to point out that the employee they filmed was black, so any whitewashing must have come from the retailer:
“Queer Eye‘s hosts, producers and crew had no knowledge or influence on Old Navy staffing choices while filming in a Philadelphia-based store this past week,” a company spokesperson told Newsweek. “While filming, production featured one female employee, an African American manager, who completed an on-camera styling consultation and also served as a point of contact for our crew.”
Queer Eye host Tan France also commented on the post to assure he had no idea anything was amiss:
“I don’t know what happened behind the scenes, or overnight, but what I can tell you is that there [is] no way I would ever have allowed production to move POC [people of color] to the back,” wrote France. “I should also mention that I had one person join me on camera, from Old Navy. She was African American. This is the last I will say on this matter.”
After being left to French tuck themselves by both Netflix and France, Old Navy responded by blaming the controversy on only people left, its own employees:
“At Old Navy, we celebrate the diversity of our teams and our customers and foster an environment of inclusion and belonging,” the company told Philadelphia Magazine. “We were proud to work with The Queer Eye show to film at our store in Philadelphia and to feature our local store manager on camera. We also worked with additional employees in the area to help ensure the store ran seamlessly for customers, as the location was open for business during filming, and we expect they may appear in background shots. These individuals are reflective of our diverse employee population. We would never select employees to participate — or not — based on race. That is completely inaccurate and against the values we stand for as a company.”
Alvarado ends her Facebook post with the line “The shade I tell you.” The shade indeed.