“Disappearance” of Black TV Producer Remains Unsolved

A Workplace Lynching?

Clare Xanthos, PhD

--

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

On October 5th 2022, it will be four years since American production assistant Terrence Woods allegedly disappeared while filming with the UK company, Raw TV. Woods’ co-workers claimed that he “ran down a cliff,” while on set at Penman mine in a remote part of Idaho, and apparently vanished into thin air. Aside from some attention from the Dr. Phil talk show, Vice.com, and a few local US news outlets, this story has been eerily ignored by the mainstream media. Furthermore, the limited coverage has been one-sided in its ready acceptance of Woods’ co-workers’ version of events, and its overwhelmingly colorblind approach in a case with obvious racial overtones.

Black Man in the White Man’s Territory

Prior to being reported as missing, Terrence Woods had been navigating a challenging work situation — he was the lone Black male in what appears to have been an all-white, largely male production crew and cast. Moreover, the culture of the TV company that Woods was working for, Raw TV, has been described as particularly toxic by ex-employees. As reported by Vice.com (2020), a previous employee described “a toxic undercurrent [at Raw] which made [him/her] feel very uncomfortable.” Similarly, according to the news site, Deadline.com (2020), a former Raw employee spoke of a macho atmosphere on set, recalling that it was “the kind of place where people sigh and say things like ‘it’s political correctness gone mad.’”

While diversity is increasing in front-of-camera roles, the actual production of TV remains a white-dominated occupation. Thus, when a person of color is hired as part of a production crew, that individual is often the lone minority in the team, putting him/her in a particularly vulnerable position. In 2021, The Guardian reported on the experience of a Black director in the UK who shared that he had “never experienced such abject racism as in TV and film.” The director went on to recount a time when a series producer humiliated him in front of the production crew:

“[He] told the entire crew that I was inexperienced, that they weren’t to listen to anything I told them and that they had to check everything with him. Bear in mind I’m the only Black man on set; 99.9% of people on my sets have never…

--

--

Clare Xanthos, PhD

WRITER. AUTHOR. SCHOLAR. Interests: Racial Equity, Racial Health Equity, Racial Justice. Co-Editor: Social Determinants of Health among African-American Men