Fab Five, Netflix Claim They Had 'No Knowledge' Old Navy Reportedly Whitewashed Staff for 'Queer Eye'

Netflix and Queer Eye hosts had "no knowledge" an Old Navy in Philadelphia allegedly whitewashed the store's employees for filming. An employee from the location claimed the store replaced all ethnically diverse employees with out-of-state workers who were white when the show filmed at the Center City location on August 21.

A spokesperson for the streaming platform told Newsweek on Wednesday that neither Netflix nor any of the show's hosts were involved in the retail chain's staffing choices. The spokesperson also noted that one employee featured in filming was not white.

"Queer Eye's hosts, producers and crew had no knowledge or influence on Old Navy staffing choices while filming in a Philadelphia-based store this past week," the statement said. "While filming, production featured one female employee, an African American manager, who completed an on-camera styling consultation and also served as a point of contact for our crew."

The employee who spoke out, Monae Alvarado, claimed all regular employees were asked to work overnight to make the store look "beautiful," then to stay off-screen when cameras entered the store.

"My job is nothing but people of color," she wrote on Facebook August 21. "Most of us did an overnight to help make the store look beautiful. Today they brought all these workers from other store around the region (West Chester, Mount Pocono, and Deptford NJ) and they were all white. They had us standing in the back not to be seen while the other workers from another store get to work on our floor like it's their store. The shade I tell you."

Queer Eye Fab 5
Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness attend FYC Event of Netflix's 'Queer Eye' at Raleigh Studios on May 16, 2019, in Los Angeles, California. Jerod Harris/Getty

Newsweek reached out to Old Navy and all Fab Five stars of the show—Karamo Brown, Tan France, Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk and Antoni Porowski—for comment but did not immediately hear back. Alvarado was also contacted but did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

Queer Eye is a show that follows five openly gay men as they attempt to bring self-love, new style, confidence and happiness to common citizens who are feeling out of touch with their true selves. The show is considered positive and uplifting, and it features a diverse set of "heroes" who are aided by the men. Each season features different races, genders, sexualities and social views.

Fans flock to watch each season of Netflix's Queer Eye, which is a revival of 2004's Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. The whitewashing allegations angered some fans since it's out of line with the show's message.

Though Old Navy did not immediately respond to Newsweek, it issued a statement on the claims to Philadelphia magazine that denied handpicking only white workers to be filmed.

"At Old Navy, we celebrate the diversity of our teams and our customers and foster an environment of inclusion and belonging," the statement read. "We were proud to work with The Queer Eye show to film at our store in Philadelphia and to feature our local store manager on camera."

It continued: "We also worked with additional employees in the area to help ensure the store ran seamlessly for customers, as the location was open for business during filming, and we expect they may appear in background shots. These individuals are reflective of our diverse employee population. We would never select employees to participate – or not – based on race. That is completely inaccurate and against the values we stand for as a company."

Alvarado disputed this statement directly in a comment on her Facebook post. "Old Navy is supposed to be a company that accepts ethnic diversity and they should show it," she wrote. "Unfortunately pushing their non-white employees out of sight for a whitewashed TV publicity show is not accepting ethnic diversity but is just the opposite: prejudice, racism and discrimination."