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Here’s why non-binary model and activist Jamie Windust quit Fantastic Beasts

Here’s why non-binary model and activist Jamie Windust quit Fantastic Beasts

Non-binary model and activist Jamie Windust

Jamie Windust landed a role as an extra in the new Fantastic Beasts movie, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. However, they soon quit due to bigotry from the cast and crew.

What happened?

Windust is a non-binary model and activist. Back in September, they opened up about being harassed and assaulted due to their gender identification.

On 19 November, Windust took to Twitter to discuss their experience on the set of Fantastic Beasts.

‘I worked as an extra on this film and it was one of the worst jobs I have ever done,’ Windust said. ‘Literally ever. Misogyny, homophobia, transphobia everywhere plus 16 hour days in minus temperatures. Atrocious.’

In the thread that followed, Windust describes the hegemony on set and how, as a non-binary person, they felt unwelcome.

Ignoring diversity

‘Not only were the staff literally all white, but it was a diverse cast of extras that were definitely not all cis. But despite this, for the whole duration of the filming process, we were cast and sectioned into “male and female” groups,’ Windust explains.

’I understand these events are long days and long hours, but to work from 4am – 6pm for weeks solid was inevitably going to be stressful, and with the lack of acknowledgement for my gender identity to also be a factor here, I obviously wasn’t excited to work.’

‘This isn’t necessarily the organisers fault, but the other extras were incredibly misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic to the members of the cast who were visibly diverse, and due to the fact i was segregated into the “male” group, I heard a lot of this vile rhetoric sometimes championed and goaded by members of staff e.g: ogling women, discussing having sex with other cast members, but also the homophobia towards other extras all went unchallenged and allowed to happen.’

Uncaring agencies

Windust goes on to describe their former agency, and how it perpetuated prejudice against non-binary people like themself.

‘At the time, I was working with an incredibly unprofessional agency, who I have now realised were wrong to work with as they asked me from day one if I would “choose a gender” to be affiliated with, in their books, so I didn’t have to go into their “special” section.’

Windust is now with Crumb Agency. They describe Crumb as ‘an agency who set up their own bloody non-binary board because of my beauty.’

Long, boring days

Windust then talks about the day-to-day monotony experienced on set.

‘We would spend days on end sat in a tent with no phone, no entertainment and 100s of people just crammed in a large catering tent to be told we weren’t needed, and would be sat from 5am – 6pm doing nothing.’

‘This was my experience,’ they state. ‘Not necessarily the experience of ALL extras. As a non-binary person this was the way I felt on set. This is what I witnessed and how I was treated.’

Out interview

On 20 November, Windust spoke with Out Magazine about their experience further.

‘Just the language that they were using, now that I look back on it, was quite alarming,’ Windust said of the casting call. ‘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.’

‘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,’ Windust explained of the people on set.

‘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,’ Windust told Out of the Crumb Agency.

Diversity in Hollywood

Windust recognizes the lack of diversity in Hollywood. According to the project 50/50 by 2020, which seeks gender equity in the entertainment industry, 94% of Hollywood film executives are white, and 81% of board members are men.

‘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,’ Windust said. ‘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.’