Hilarie Burton Claims Hallmark Refused Her Diverse Casting Request

Hilarie Burton has accused the Hallmark Channel refusing inclusivity in its casting — and claims she left a job because of it.

After the network came under fire for pulling four ads depicting same-sex weddings, Burton, 37, slammed Hallmark in a series of tweets, claiming she was “let go” from a project after she requested a diverse cast.

“Just going through some old emails from a #Hallmark job I was ‘let go’ from back in January,” the actress began. “I had insisted on a LGBTQ character, an interracial couple and diverse casting. I was polite, direct and professional. But after the execs gave their notes on the script and NONE of my requests were honored.”

“I was told ‘take it or leave it.’ I left it. And the paycheck,” she continued. “Shitty being penalized for standing up for inclusivity. I really wanted that job. It was close to my house. It paid really well. It was about the military, which you all know I hold dear.”

Burton said if given the chance to go back, she’d make the same decision and walk away. “The bigotry comes from the top and permeates the whole deal over there,” she tweeted, before praising the Lifetime network. “I’ve been loudly cheering for @lifetimetv all year because they heard my concerns + RALLIED! You want inclusive Christmas magic?! We got it. Love is love๐Ÿณ๏ธโ€๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ’– #receipts.”

The “One Tree Hill” alum then praised her “wonderful husband,” actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, for giving her the opportunity to “choose morals over paying bills.”

“Not everyone has that!” she wrote. “Nor should we be forced to be dependent. If I had to cover our mortgage and was told ‘take it or leave it’, I’d be f–ked.”

Morgan replied to Burton’s Twitter thread and voiced his support for his wife.

“One, I do love you in an elf costume,” he tweeted. “Two, and most importantly… @Hallmark and @hallmarkchannel ?? Gross. No other words needed. #loveislove”

Conservative watchdog group One Million Moms was one of several such groups that targeted Hallmark after it ran a series of ads from Zola, a wedding planner website, that featured several depictions of marriage, including same-sex unions. According to The Hollywood Reporter, One Million Moms, Lifesite and others urged the network not to air films or ads that represent the LGBTQ+ community.

“Crown Media Family Networks made the decision to pull the commercials. The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value,” said in a statement received by THR.

Zola countered with their own statement, pulling any and all advertising from the network: “All kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love and we will no longer be advertising on Hallmark.”

“The only difference between the commercials that were flagged and the ones that were approved was that the commercials that did not meet Hallmark’s standards included a lesbian couple kissing,” Zola chief marketing officer Mike Chi elaborated for THR. “Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed.”

However, on Monday, following the backlash Hallmark received — which included a petition signed by more than 30,000 people — the network walked back on their decision to remove the ads and apologized.

Hallmark’s CEO Mike Perry said in a statement, received by TMZ: “The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused… Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision.” Perry also said he will be reaching out to Zola to “reinstate the commercials.”

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