Shannon Sharpe criticized for interview with Amanda Seales


In a three-hour interview on the latest episode of Shannon Sharpe’s podcast “Club Shay Shay,” the former NFL star interviewed actor and comedian Amanda Seales about everything from her recent autism diagnosis to her rumored feud with Issa Rae.

Many have criticized Sharpe since the episode was released on Wednesday, saying the host seemed to misunderstand Seales’ perspective or misinterpret her comments on several topics she brought up. The conversation grew tense throughout, with Sharpe apologizing to the actor at one point for coming off as “combative.”

Seales, 42, said that she had recently been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and noted that Black women often go undiagnosed because of a lack of research on Black women and girls who are on the spectrum. She said she has often felt misunderstood both by people she knows and by strangers because of her neurodivergence.

“You get people saying things like, ‘You are difficult, you are mean, you are nasty,’ and you know you are none of these things,” she said.

Seales continued to explain her diagnosis and how it manifests for her, whether that’s in her need to doodle when she’s focused or in her tone of voice, which is often interpreted as harsh, but Sharpe did not seem to understand.

“Just because you have a special gift, that doesn’t mean that you have a spectrum,” he said. “So you feel just because your brain functions differently that that’s what caused it or there’s a clinical diagnosis?”

Seales wrote that she felt Sharpe was “interrogating” her about her diagnosis in an Instagram post on Friday, adding that he had “absolutely zero love” for her as he “pressured” her into answering questions.

Another part of the conversation that sparked backlash was when Seales recounted an early experience she had with racism when she was a child, working as a dancer for a Christmas show at Walt Disney World. Acknowledging that the two had already disagreed in the interview, Seales prefaced her comments by saying, “Even though you’re gonna probably have an issue with this, they were f— racist.”

The “Insecure” star then described how she was the only Black child out of 12 dancers and was bullied by the other children, who called her by a racial slur and said she was selected only because she was Black.

“Does that suffice as racist to you, or would you want to call it something else? Is that just kids being mean?,” she asked.

“Yeah, they’re kids,” Sharpe said, then asked if she was a “model citizen” as a child. Seales audibly sighed in response, and Sharpe later said that children repeat what they’re hearing from their parents and their environment and don’t know what they’re saying is wrong.

The heated conversation sparked conversations online about Sharpe’s interviewing tactics, with one fan writing on X (formerly Twitter) that he needs to “do better with not invalidating others’ experiences with his own.”

Seales also addressed her relationship with former collaborator Rae, the creator and star of “Insecure,” which had been rumored to be fragmented near the show’s end in 2021. She said she had never talked about their relationship publicly because Rae’s role in Hollywood is “so important.”

After Sharpe said he has heard that Rae’s sets are “empowering,” Seales said she disagreed.

“She wasn’t empowering to me,” she said. “She didn’t feel like I deserved to be protected. I’m only giving a portion of the situation, but that was my experience, and nonetheless, I have still always protected her because I felt like it was my responsibility to do so, but it is not.”

Since the podcast was released, Seales said in an Instagram video that she was surprised to see the support she got from listeners who lauded her for candor and for speaking about her autism diagnosis.

“I’m so used to being vilified and misunderstood that to see so many folks finally hearing me has been cathartic,” she wrote.

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