'American Gods' Drops Two Of Its Recurring Actors Of Color; Orlando Jones Claims He Was Fired

American Gods is having trouble in paradise...again. The constantly embattled Starz series which, after an acclaimed first season under showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, has seen a slew of replacement showrunners and an alarming number of cast turnovers. But the dropping of two actors of color who were upgraded to main roles in the second season has earned American Gods the wrong kind of attention again, especially after Orlando Jones' claimed that he was fired from the series for racial reasons.

In a viral video post on Twitter this weekend, Jones, who stars in American Gods as Mr. Nancy, stated that he was fired on the show in September by the new series showrunner Charles Eglee for sending the "wrong message to Black America."

"There will be no more Mr. Nancy," Jones said in the blistering video. "Don't let these motherf***ers tell you they love Mr. Nancy. They don't. I'm not going to name names but the new season 3 showrunner [Eglee] is Connecticut born and Yale-educated, so he's very smart and he thinks that Mr. Nancy's angry, get shit done is the wrong message for black America. That's right. This white man sits in that decision-making chair and I'm sure he has many black bffs who are his advisors and made it clear to him that if he did not get rid of that angry god Mr. Nancy he'd start a Denmark Vesey uprising in this country. I mean, what else could it be?"

Denmark Vesey refers to the leader of a planned slave revolt in Charleston who was executed in the 1820s. It's a reference that is in line with Jones' righteous portrayal of the trickster god Anansi, also known as Mr. Nancy, who is introduced in the series when he inspires a slave revolt aboard a ship bound to America. Jones was a major force not just onscreen but behind the scenes, stepping up in season 2 to help write and produce the series, specifically taking on some of the dialogue for the characters of color.

Jones' exit was compounded by the dropping of another major actor of color, Mousa Kraish, who played the cab-driving Jinn. In a tweet thread, Kraish thanked the season 1 showrunners Fuller and Green, and author Neil Gaiman, for the opportunity to play "a positive role you don't normally see television," but notably left out any mention of season 2 showrunner Jesse Alexander and current showrunner Charles Eglee.

The second season of American Gods was notoriously chaotic behind the scenes, with showrunner Alexander leaving the actors to write their own lines, with Jones contributing enough that he was credited by the WGA. Jones later told Variety that took on writing duties in season 2 for a large portion of the characters of color, saying, "When I showed up to work in Season 2, they hadn't written at all for Mr. Nancy... I ended up finding myself in the writing chair for all of the disenfranchised characters." He also described the long, drawn-out process of losing the job before he received a phone call in September informing him about the "new creative direction."

A day after Jones' tweet, the production company producing the series Fremantle issued a response, claiming that the departure of Jones and Kraish was plot-motivated, not racially motivated:

"Jones' option was not picked up because Mr. Nancy, among other characters, is not featured in the portion of the book we are focusing on within season three."

Season 3 will supposedly focus on the segment of the book that follows Shadow in hiding in the chilly Wisconsin town of Lakeside. It's a quiet, slow-burning section that honestly has very few appearances from any characters apart from Shadow and the townspeople. But it is suspicious that Starz would go so far as to fire these regular actors instead of keeping them on retainer, and doesn't bode well for the future of the series.