Hollywood Agent Fired For Comparing Black Colleague To Crack Addict
Agent Apologized, Says He is on Anti-racist Journey
March 28th, 2021 – Longtime literary agent Jay Baker has been fired from Hollywood powerhouse agency CAA after comparing a black colleague to a crack addict and sending him a clip from Menace 2 Society, according to an email. Baker abruptly left the talent agency Friday afternoon with updates about the incident unfolding throughout the weekend.
According to the email published by Deadline, Baker sent the Menace scene to manager Jewerl Keats Ross who asked for an early screening of a film to consider an actress for another project. Ross said on the initial phone call with Baker, he laughed off the crack addict comparison but was later “horrified” after watching the clip.
“I am a black man in America,” Ross wrote. “No black man in America wants to think that a white person thinks that asking for a favor is like asking for crack. The first thing that crossed my mind is that if I were white and asked for a favor, would you ever have thought of this scene? And would you ever have sent it me?”
Baker and Ross have a long working history with the pair repping Moonlight director Barry Jenkins together.
Ross shared the full email he sent Baker with Deadline:
From: Jewerl Keats Ross
Date: Thu, Mar 11, 2021 at 2:57 PM
Subject: Menace 2 Society
To: Jay Baker
Only because we have worked together so many years and because we have experienced so much together that I am going to take the risk and be really honest with you.
I called you yesterday and asked you to attempt to get me an early look at your client’s film Voyagers because I am casting a film where we want to consider the main actress of Voyagers. This is a favor and I made an impassioned plea for your assistance. You then told me that my request reminds you of the crack addict scene from Menace 2 Society. And then you texted me a link to the scene. On the call, I laughed off your comments and made a joke at my own expense and then we moved on to other topics. I didn’t think about that conversation again until later that night when I went through my text messages and actually watched the link you sent.
After watching the link I am horrified.
I want you to watch the scene you sent me again. Here it is:
I am a black man in America. No black man in America wants to think that a white person thinks that asking for a favor is like asking for crack. The first thing that crossed my mind is that if I were white and asked for a favor, would you ever have thought of this scene? And would you ever have sent it me?
I am a black man in Hollywood. No black man in Hollywood wants to think that his professional relationships would ever in a million years compare him to this scene.
You are a white man in a position of power. Viewing this scene from the seat of your power makes my heart ache!
Talking about this with my boyfriend last night actually brought me to tears. The last time I truly cried is when my sister died in 2019.
I wish I knew what else to say.
While CAA has declined to comment on the matter, Baker did release an apology yesterday saying he takes full responsibility.
“I deeply regret my actions and the pain I have caused Jewerl Ross,” Baker said in a statement. “I have apologized to him, and I also want to apologize to anyone else whom my behavior has offended. I have no excuse and I take full responsibility. I am a work in progress and I’ve embarked on a journey to fully understand what it means to be truly anti-racist. I promise that my actions going forward will reflect that learning.”