There’s been a lot of backlash to The Activist a show in which Julianne Hough, Usher, and Priyanka Chopra were to be judges in a competitive show amongst activists; now CBS is reimagining the project as a reality series.
In a joint statement between CBS, Global Citizen, and Live Nation, per The Guardian, the network and production partners admitted that they were tone-deaf to the work of the many activists who serve their committees every day. “The Activist was designed to show a wide audience the passion, long hours, and ingenuity that activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others to do the same. However, it has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort.”
“As a result, we are changing the format to remove the competitive element and reimagining the concept into a primetime documentary special (air date to be announced). It will showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in. Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organisation of their choice, as was planned for the original show.”
Hough released a statement over the controversial show saying pitting the activists against each other felt like the “Oppression Olympics” and accused it of capitalizing off activism.
“It feels important for me to share that the original reason I signed on to this show was because I was really excited to be a part of something that highlights, and is centered around sharing activists’ work on a larger platform,” she wrote. “In doing so, I felt it would help educate, mobilize, and inspire people around the world to get involved in activism because many worthy causes need attention, funding, and most important, the power to effect real change.”
Hough added her controversial Halloween costume back in 2013 where she wore blackface as another reason to disqualify her as a judge, “I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge. On top of all of this, many people are aware that I wore blackface in 2013, which only further added assault to injury.”
Neither Usher nor Priyanka has commented on The Activist.