Get our free email newsletter with just one click

West End actor Layton Williams turned away from Edinburgh Fringe venue amid claims of ‘racial profiling’

Layton Williams. Photo: Chris Mann
by -

Edinburgh Fringe venue operator Assembly has been accused of racial profiling after an actor was refused entry to a show because staff said he “looked suspicious”.

The company was forced to apologise when Layton Williams, who played Billy Elliot in the West End and appeared in the 2017 UK tour of Hairspray, posted his experiences on Twitter.

Williams, who also starred in the BBC comedy Bad Education, said he was removed from an Assembly venue in Edinburgh on August 19 when security staff said he “looked suspicious” and resembled “someone who had jumped the fence two weeks ago”.

“[They] think I was here because I look like another mixed-race bitch,” he said in a video on Twitter.

“You want to talk about racial profiling? Here it is in the flesh,” he said, describing staff members as “horrifically rude, uncooperative and quite frankly abusive”.

In the video, a member of staff can be seen raising her middle finger at Williams.

He later tweeted that he had informed the police of the incident, but said it had left him feeling “completely humiliated”.

Assembly has since issued a public apology for the way the events were handled.

“We are currently looking into the situation with our security contractor and will be investigating this further. We would also like to reassure all performers and audiences that we are committed to making sure that our spaces remain welcoming for everyone attending shows and using our venues,” Assembly said.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.