Vancouver, B.C.

Actress  “ashamed” at revelations of discrimination at Hallmark movies

Teodoro Alcuitas


She was torn between coming out to denounce discrimination at her own network or remain silent.

Concerned she might not be hired again for ratting, Filipino-Canadian actress Zenia Marshall twitted:

“I can’t be a part of this problem by keeping silent. ”

And she was ashamed of herself for even thinking about it,  said the co-star of “Date My Dad” a one-season family series that aired on the Uptv network in 2017.

Series co-star Zenia Marshall took to Instagram to share her reaction to the recent revelations.

“Our “Date My Dad” series has been one of the most beloved experiences of my life and I’ll always have eternal gratitude for both UPtv and Hallmark for the opportunities they’ve given me but I feel SO ashamed that in the behind the scenes of our very own show, there was so much discrimination being enforced by these networks. And I’m ashamed myself that when I first read this, my first instinct was to share this information and immediately followed by the worry & stress that I’ll never be hired again by these networks if I do share. But I can’t be a part of this problem by keeping silent. ”

Series writer Nina Colman disclosed obstacles she faced when trying to pitch “Date My Dad” to Hallmark.

“They declined to take the series because of an interracial marriage that was featured in the series. While UPtv who picked up the series refused to have one of the characters be openly gay and featured in its anti-bullying episode. “UP wouldn’t let Matty’s character be out and gay on Date My Dad… they made me cut the whole speech from the ‘bullying episode’ and any reference to it. It was shocking. And then, when Hallmark was thinking of buying the show, they wouldn’t do an inter-racial marriage (Lochlyn and Karen). Pass. No thank you.”

Inter-racial marriage

Ironically, Marshall is a child of an inter-racial marriage. She is the daughter of Filipino tribute artist, Luisa Marshall and Steve Marshall.

She is also white-skinned.

Extra Lesley Horat told Global TV that during a filming  of A Carousel Christmas at Gibsons, B.C. she was made to sit out one of the scenes because of the colour of her skin.

In a statement to Global News, Hallmark’s parent company Crown Media wrote:

“We state unequivocally that Crown Media does not have a policy, stated or unstated, regarding interracial couples in our programming.”

“Programs and their characters should reflect the wide diversity of our audience, keeping in mind the importance of dignity to every human being. Sensitivity is necessary in the presentation of material relating to age, sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national derivation to avoid demeaning stereotypes.”

Crown Media said it will investigate the allegations to ensure all its third-party production vendors which are tasked with filming the Hallmark movies fully understand their values and policies.

“We are all scared to rock the boat…”

Multiple sources from within the B.C. film industry, who spoke to Global News on the condition of anonymity, said many know of an “interracial policy” that they said has been tied to Hallmark productions for a long time.

“It’s just common knowledge that Hallmark expects people of the same ethnicities to be coupled,” said one insider. “We all are scared to rock the boat on this issue because there are so many productions that are happening.”

Hallmark movies account for dozens of projects filmed in B.C. each year.

Horat and her friends said they likely won’t watch A Carousel Christmas when it premieres on TV in November.

“I felt like they ruined my space where I live because I don’t have to deal with that on a daily basis.” Horat said. “Why even bother showing diversity if you’re going to take it back to 1950s southern America?”

You can view the original Instagram post below.

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Who is Zenia Marshall?

The multi talented singer/songwriter/ actress and dancer began dancing lessons 

Born into a family of performers she began taking dance lessons at the age of 4, and later took on vocal classes and piano lessons. She also began to write songs and learned to play the alto saxophone for her school band class.

She was a dancer in the pilot episode of the YTV series Some Assembly Required. She also danced at the world premiere of Coastal City Ballet’s Hansel & Gretel. Her mother is the well-known and award Tina Turner tribute artist Luisa Marshall.

Arguably,the longest-running entertainment group in the west, Zenia has been part of the family-run show.

She performs with her mother Luisa, sister Kimi Kaos,father Steve (on drums), aunt Tota Mendez and another uncle.

Zenia was a co-musical director and co-choreographer for an adaptation of Beauty & The Beast, The New Musical, a production in which she also starred as Belle. 

She recently released her debut album ‘Ain’t Like You’ with her sister Kimi Kaos.

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