Tina Fey Apologizes for 'Ugliness' of 30 Rock Episodes That Contain Blackface
"I understand now that 'intent' is not a free pass for white people to use these images," the Emmy winner wrote
On Monday, Vulture reported that the series' star and creator, 50, penned a letter to streaming platforms that carry the comedy series, asking that they remove four episodes that feature characters in blackface.
The message was co-signed by collaborator Robert Carlock as well as the show's home network, NBC.
"As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation," read the memo, also obtained by Variety. "I understand now that ‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images. I apologize for pain they have caused."
"Going forward," continued Fey, "no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness. I thank NBCUniversal for honoring this request."
A spokesperson for NBC did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment.
The controversial episodes include “Believe in the Stars” (season 3, episode 2), “The Live Show” (season 5, episode 4), “Christmas Attack Zone” (season 5, episode 10) and “Live from Studio 6H” (season 6, episode 19).
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Two of the episodes feature Krakowski's character Jenna Maroney in blackface, and one other contains guest star Jon Hamm in blackface.
According to Variety, the four episodes will be taken down this week, and the particular episodes will not be circulated in syndicated reruns on TV. The outlet also reported that the episodes won't be available for purchase from on-demand sites like iTunes.
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The public denouncing of the 30 Rock creative decisions marks a change of heart for Fey, who said in 2015 that she didn't want to apologize for jokes deemed controversial. Fey was responding to criticism of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt character Jacqueline (played by Krakowski), who is revealed to be hiding her Native American heritage.
“Steer clear of the internet and you’ll live forever,” Fey told Net-a-Porter at the time, according to Entertainment Weekly. “We did an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episode and the internet was in a whirlwind, calling it ‘racist,’ but my new goal is not to explain jokes. I feel like we put so much effort into writing and crafting everything, they need to speak for themselves.”
Fey added at the time: “There’s a real culture of demanding apologies, and I’m opting out of that.”