Hilarie Burton Accuses Hallmark Channel of Firing Her for Demanding 'Diverse Casting'

Actress Hilarie Burton claimed she was fired by the Hallmark Channel after she demanded adding an LGBTQ character to a project she was working on for the network. Burton made the allegation in a series of tweets Sunday, as Hallmark spent the weekend being blasted on social media for removing a commercial with a same-sex couple. Hallmark eventually reversed course and said Sunday night it is looking to reinstate the commercial.

"Just going through some old emails from a [Hallmark] job I was 'let go' from back in January," Burton wrote on Twitter. "I had insisted on an LGBTQ character, an interracial couple and diverse casting. I was polite, direct and professional. But after the execs gave their notes on the script and NONE of my Requests were honored, I was told 'take it or leave it.'"

"[Then] I left it," the One Tree Hill story continued. "And the paycheck. Sh— being penalized for standing up for inclusivity. I really wanted that job. It was close to my house. It paid really well. It was about the military, which you all know I hold dear. But?"

Burton later wrote that she would make the same decision again, and praised Hallmark's chief rival, Lifetime, for including diverse characters in their movies.

"The bigotry comes from the top and permeates the whole deal over there," she wrote. "I’ve been loudly cheering for [Lifetime] all year because they heard my concerns + RALLIED! You want inclusive Christmas magic?! We got it. Love is love."

In her final tweet on the subject, Burton wrote, "Key point here: I have a wonderful husband [Jeffrey Dean Morgan] who works his a— off so I have the luxury to choose morals over paying bills. Not everyone has that! Nor should we be forced to be dependent. If I had to cover our mortgage and was told 'take it or leave it,' I’d be f—."

"One, I do love you in an elf costume," Burton's husband, actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, hilariously wrote. "Two, and most importantly... [Hallmark] and [Hallmark Channel]?? Gross. No other words needed."

"I love you, Santa. Xxx," Burton replied.

Burton's comments came amid the backdrop of a controversial weekend for Hallmark. On Friday, the network confirmed it would no longer air a Zola.com commercial featuring two women kissing at their wedding after bowing to pressure from the conservative group One Million Moms. After two days of non-stop criticism on Twitter, Hallmark announced late Sunday it was reversing its decision.

"The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused," Hallmark Cards Inc. President and CEO Mike Perry said in a statement. "Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision."

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In the bigger picture, Hallmark has long been criticized for the lack of diversity in its Christmas movies. Once again this season, the channel failed to include LGBTQ characters, although the network did make two movies referencing Hanukkah.

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