Dave Chappelle 'open' to dialogue with Netflix employees amid controversy, report says

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Comedian Dave Chapelle is "open" to talking with the transgender community, according to People magazine, and he is ready to have a dialogue with Netflix employees who are upset by remarks he made in his latest stand-up special, "The Closer."

A representative for Chappelle told the magazine: "Dave stands by his Art. Both sides of the street are talking and Dave is listening. At some point, when everyone is open, I'm sure our communities will come together."

Netflix employees who walked out Wednesday in protest of Chappelle's special and its anti-transgender comments were joined by allies who chanted "Trans lives matter," getting pushback from counterprotesters who also showed up.

A pre-noon rally at a Netflix office-studio complex in Hollywood drew about 100 people, most on the side of an estimated 30 workers at the streaming giant that joined in afterward. Some were willing to identify themselves as Netflix employees, but all declined to provide their names.

Joey Soloway, creator of the groundbreaking Emmy-winning comedy "Transparent," was among the speakers at the rally.

Chappelle's decision to share "his outrage as comedic humiliation in front of thousands of people, and then broadcasting it to hundreds of millions of people is infinitely amplified gender violence," they said.

"I want trans representation on the Netflix board, this (expletive) week," the writer-director said.
EMBED More News Videos

Chappelle's comments about transgender people in the special have been widely criticized as transphobic by multiple employees and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups.


Elliot Page, who stars in Netflix's "The Umbrella Academy" and is transgender, tweeted that he stands with the trans, nonbinary and people of color working at Netflix who are "fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace."

Team Trans(asterisk), which identifies itself as supporting "trans people working at Netflix trying to build a better world for our community," posted what it called a list of "asks" being made of Netflix by trans and nonbinary workers and allies at the company.

They are calling on the company to "repair" its relationships with staff and the audience with changes involving the hiring of trans executives and increased spending on trans and nonbinary creators and projects.

"Harm reduction" is another demand, which according to the list includes acknowledgment of what it called Netflix's "responsibility for this harm from transphobic content, and in particular harm to the Black trans community."

It also called for disclaimers to flag content that includes "transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia" and hate speech.

In a statement, the media watchdog group GLAAD said it salutes the Netflix's employees, allies and LGBTQ and Black advocates "calling for accountability and change within Netflix and in the entertainment industry as a whole."

The employees who walked out uniformly referred reporters to the GLAAD statement.

Netflix ran into a buzz-saw of criticism not only with the special but in how internal memos responded to employees' concerns, including co-CEO Ted Sarandos' assertion that "content on screen doesn't directly translate to real-world harm."

Sarandos also wrote that Netflix doesn't allow titles that are "designed to incite hate or violence, and we don't believe 'The Closer' crosses that line."

In interviews Tuesday, Sarandos said he failed to recognize that "a group of our employees was really hurting," as he told The Wall Street Journal, and that his comment about the effect of TV on viewers was an oversimplification.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2021 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.