Longtime CAA literary agent Jay Baker was fired on Friday for sending a text message comparing a Black colleague to a crack addict, according to an email written by the colleague.
The move came after manager Jewerl Keats Ross, who is African American, complained about the text, in an email obtained by Deadline. Ross explained that after asking Baker to set up a screening so Ross could consider an actress for an upcoming project, Baker told Ross that his request reminded him “of the crack addict scene from ‘Menace 2 Society.’” Baker then sent a YouTube link from the film to Ross.
“After watching the link I am horrified,” Ross responded. “I am a black man in America. No black man in America wants to think that a white person thinks that asking for a favor is like asking for crack.”
He continued, “No black man in America wants to think that a white person thinks that asking for a favor is like asking for crack. The first thing that crossed my mind is that if I were white and asked for a favor, would you ever have thought of this scene? And would you ever have sent it me?”
Ross provided Deadline with the email below:
From: Jewerl Keats Ross
Date: Thu, Mar 11, 2021 at 2:57 PM
Subject: Menace 2 Society
To: Jay Baker
Only because we have worked together so many years and because we have experienced so much together that I am going to take the risk and be really honest with you.
I called you yesterday and asked you to attempt to get me an early look at your client’s film Voyagers because I am casting a film where we want to consider the main actress of Voyagers. This is a favor and I made an impassioned plea for your assistance. You then told me that my request reminds you of the crack addict scene from Menace 2 Society. And then you texted me a link to the scene. On the call, I laughed off your comments and made a joke at my own expense and then we moved on to other topics. I didn’t think about that conversation again until later that night when I went through my text messages and actually watched the link you sent.
After watching the link I am horrified.
I want you to watch the scene you sent me again. Here it is:
I am a black man in America. No black man in America wants to think that a white person thinks that asking for a favor is like asking for crack. The first thing that crossed my mind is that if I were white and asked for a favor, would you ever have thought of this scene? And would you ever have sent it me?
I am a black man in Hollywood. No black man in Hollywood wants to think that his professional relationships would ever in a million years compare him to this scene.
You are a white man in a position of power. Viewing this scene from the seat of your power makes my heart ache!
Talking about this with my boyfriend last night actually brought me to tears. The last time I truly cried is when my sister died in 2019.
I wish I knew what else to say.
Baker’s client list includes “The Flash” writer Christina Hodson, “Aquaman” writer Will Beall and Oscar-nominated “Minari” filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung.
A rep for CAA declined to discuss the reason for Baker’s abrupt departure.