The Office's Leslie David Baker Says Racism Has 'Gotten Worse' After Being Sent Hateful Messages
The Office's Leslie David Baker is opening up about the racism he's experienced since pushing for a spinoff series.
Last month, the actor, 62, who played Stanley Hudson for all nine seasons of the hit comedy series, created a Kickstarter page in the hopes of crowdsourcing funding for a project titled Uncle Stan: Coming Out of Retirement.
As of Saturday morning, more than 1,500 donors have pledged more than $360,000 to help the spinoff come to life — but not everyone was supportive.
Baker shared shocking racist messages that he's received about the project in an Instagram post on Wednesday. “For those of you who don’t believe racism is still alive in the world... here’s the proof,” he wrote alongside screenshots of the extremely offensive messages.
Opening up to USA Today in a new interview, Baker said racism has "gotten worse" in recent memory. "Racism doesn't care whether or not you're an actor on TV or if you won awards," he said. "This is something that faces minorities on any job, not just because they're in show business."
"We're living in an age in time where there is this movement," he added. "We would have thought that these issues would have been rectified years, decades ago. They have not. As a matter of fact, they've gotten worse."
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"You cannot fight racism and combat those types of stereotypical attitudes if you pretend that they don't exist," continued Baker. "All too often in America, people have been so concerned about being made to feel uncomfortable because they aren't confronted by racist behavior."
Explaining that the hate comes in new forms in today's digital era, the actor said he hopes sharing his experience will remind people that the issue is still prevalent.
"It's not riding down the street in the hood with the burning cross, but instead it's been replaced with the new technology," Baker told the outlet.
Baker's Office costar Angela Kinsey showed him support in the comment section of his Instagram post earlier this week, calling the disturbing messages "horrible."
"Leslie, I am so sorry. That is horrible and makes me sad. I love you so much. You bring so much joy to so many. I can't wait to see the Uncle Stan show!" wrote the actress.
Sharing details of the new show with USA Today, Baker said the first episode would follow Stanley's widower nephew Lucky, who asks the fan-favorite grumpy character to help raise his two kids.
"I kept getting asked the same questions over and over about the character of Stanley," he said. "'Well, what is he doing now? Does he still do crossword puzzles? He went to Florida and retired and was supposedly doing woodwork. Is he still doing that? What is his journey?' According to the audience, they didn't feel that his journey was over yet, so we're gonna see where that takes us."