This article was originally published on 9/27/21.
In a hit that affects its diversity, Law & Order: SVU is set to lose two key players on their team in this upcoming season. Jamie Gray Hyder, a.k.a. Officer Kat Tamin, and Demore Barnes, a.k.a. Deputy Chief Christian Garland, will be exiting the series sometime in Season 23.
It’s still unclear why this decision was made. Barnes recently released a statement on his Instagram that he “was sad and surprised” by his exit. Hyder also gave a short message on her Instagram, making it obvious the decision was “above my paygrade and wouldn’t have been my choice.”
Even a close-knit Dick Wolf production can fall victim to the same unfortunate Hollywood mistake of letting go of some of its best talent, who happen to be people of color, for reasons no one understands but the powers-that-be.
Given that Hyder plays a bisexual Latina officer and Barnes portrays the first black Deputy Chief the show has ever had, SVU doesn’t have much diversity left. Of course, there’s always Detective Fin Tutuola (Ice-T), who has been on the show since the second season. Ice-T will be the only diversity represented, besides SVU’s fearless leader, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish).
Their departures highlight the never-ending issue of lack of representation for marginalized communities across the board in entertainment. Even as productions have attempted to make their casts and crews more inclusive, Hollywood is still falling massively short. The 2021 Emmys having no people of color win in any category further drives this point home, and Hollywood needs to do better.
As for the future of SVU and representation, will they be introducing new supporting characters? For instance, are there plans for other existing roles to become more of a focus, like Tutuola’s gay black son? We’ll have to wait and see. For now, we say goodbye to two fantastic characters that portrayed their experiences as only they could. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Barnes and Hyder.
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