Actress Hilarie Burton says Hallmark 'penalized' her for asking for diverse cast

Hallmark declined to comment on Burton’s allegations Tuesday.
/ Source: NBC News

Actress Hilarie Burton says she walked away from a job with the Hallmark Channel in January after her requests for "diverse casting" were ignored.

"Just going through some old emails from a #Hallmark job I was 'let go' from back in January," Burton wrote in a tweet Sunday. "I had insisted on a LGBTQ character, an interracial couple and diverse casting. I was polite, direct and professional."

After executives gave her their notes on the script, Burton said that none of her requests were honored.

"I was told 'take it or leave it'," Burton continued in a series of tweets. "I left it. And the paycheck. Sh---y 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."

Burton said if faced with a similar situation, she would "walk away again in a heartbeat" and that "bigotry comes from the top and permeates the whole deal" at Hallmark.

The actress and producer, who starred in the television drama "One Tree Hill" and has appeared in Hallmark Channel movies in the past, also acknowledged that her husband, actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, "works his a-- off" so she has "the luxury to choose morals over paying bills."

"Not everyone has that! Nor should we be forced to be dependent," she said. "If I had to cover our mortgage and was told ‘take it or leave it,’ I’d be f-----d."

Hallmark declined to comment on Burton’s allegations Tuesday.

The company apologized on Sunday after facing backlash for pulling television ads that featured brides kissing each other, following a petition from conservative groups objecting to the commercial.

In a statement, Mike Perry, the president of Hallmark Cards, said the Hallmark Channel's parent company, Crown Media Family Networks, had been "agonizing" over its decision to remove the ad and the "hurt it has unintentionally caused."

The announcement Sunday came after Zola, a wedding website service, said it would no longer advertise with Hallmark after the channel refused to air commercials that included same-sex couples. Hallmark said it would work to reinstate the same-sex wedding commercials.

NBC News' parent company, NBCUniversal, and Comcast Ventures are investors in Zola.