Brands are cutting ties with fashion stylist Jessica Mulroney after Black influencer Sasha Exeter accused her of "white privilege," saying that Mulroney threatened to ruin her career and then threatened to sue her when she spoke publicly about it.
Mulroney, 40, is a longtime close friend of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (aka Meghan Markle), and is married to the son of former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney. She is the host of I Do, Redo, a reality television show that helps couples whose weddings were disrupted due to unforeseen circumstances plan and execute new ceremonies.
Although Mulroney has apologized via social media posts, the Canadian Television Network said in a statement Thursday that they were removing I Do, Redo from its platforms. Good Morning America and Cityline have confirmed that Mulroney will no longer appear as a guest expert on their shows, and brands Hudson Bay and Kleinfeld Bridal have ended their relationships with the stylist as a result of her conduct.
Exeter, 40, is a Toronto-based influencer and athlete who runs a lifestyle blog called So Sasha and is currently a brand ambassador for Joe Fresh. In her social media posts, Exeter often writes about her experience as a Black woman and single mother, and has been actively posting about the international protests that have arisen in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
In a nearly 12-minute Instagram video posted Wednesday, Exeter said Mulroney took personal offense at one of her posts calling on people to take action to support the Black community. Exeter claims Mulroney then threatened her career, describing Mulroney's behavior as "textbook white privilege."
"I’ve been extremely mindful and cognizant with the way I communicate and my approach making sure that during these post sharing that I was never, not once, calling out anybody directly," Exeter said. "Unfortunately though, one very prominent Canadian figure who used to be an acquaintance of mine, named Jessica Mulroney, took offense to a very generic call to action that I shared on my Instagram story. And what happened next was a series of very problematic behavior and antics that ultimately resulted in her sending me a threat in writing."
"Listen, I’m by no means calling Jess a racist," Exeter said. "But what I will say is this. She is very well aware of her wealth, her perceived power, and privilege because of the color of her skin. And that, my friends, gave her the momentary confidence to come for my livelihood in writing."
"During the span of about a week or so, Jessica basically ticked every single box of what a white woman should absolutely not do during the biggest racial uproar in history. Citing that this wasn’t really a problem that she wanted to share on her social channels excuses that she’d be bullied or vilified by the public and the media if she did so, claimed her show was more important to promote because it was going into, I believe, the season finale and because after all this is her job and — get this — 'they matter too.'"
Exeter said that on June 3, Mulroney blocked her on Instagram and sent "a trail of offensive messages to me that ended in her saying, and I quote, 'I have also spoken to companies and people about the way you’ve treated me unfairly. You think your voice matters. Well, it only matters if you express it with kindness and without shaming people who are simply trying to learn. Good luck.'"
"I’m still shaking my head at this attempt and the audacity she had," Exeter said. "I think what makes this situation really horrendous is the threat or the claim that she was going ahead and speaking to brands and companies that I potentially haven’t worked with or am currently working with or could possibly work with. And that’s a threat. That’s a threat to my livelihood and for her to threaten me, a single mom. A single Black mom during a racial pandemic. Blows my mind. It’s absolutely unbelievable."
Exeter said she believed Mulroney soon realized "she screwed up big time" by communicating with her in writing, which "resulted in a lot of backpedaling excuse after excuse through text messages for her behavior." She said the stylist reached out to Exeter's Black peers and friends to "prove her allyship through her association to them."
"How can you be about the Black people and be a supporter and about female empowerment on the outside when you’re attempting to silence a Black woman during this movement behind closed doors? It just seems very contradictory to me."
"This shit needs to stop right now," she said at the end of her video. "The goal here is genuine transformative change. Not optical and performative bullshit. You cannot be posting that you stand in solidarity while attempting to silence somebody via text. I’ll be damned if the next generation of Black women have to go through this. If we’re going to hold businesses accountable, we should be holding individuals accountable as well, because enough is enough. I’m openly sharing this story with you really in hopes to give other women the confidence to stand up for themselves too."
As the video began to go viral on Wednesday, Mulroney left an apology in a comment on Exeter's video saying that she was "unequivocally sorry" for what she said during what she described as a "heated argument."
In her public apology, she referenced her friendship with Meghan and Meghan's experience as a biracial woman targeted by UK tabloids. Mulroney had also made an apparent reference to her friend in an earlier Instagram post in which she wrote that "someone dear" to her had told her to post more about racial injustice.
However, in an Instagram story the next day, Exeter said that after posting the apology, early Thursday morning Mulroney messaged her threatening to sue her for libel.
Mulroney also appears to have posted — and then taken down — a message on her Instagram story about how there were "two sides" to the situation around the time shown in Exeter's screenshot of the message.
Mulroney made an Instagram post later on Thursday in which she apologized to Exeter again but did not mention the influencer's new allegations that she planned to sue for libel.
"I did not intend in any way to jeopardize her livelihood," Mulroney wrote, saying that the two women had a "disagreement" that had gotten out of hand. She said that she planned to step back from social media and "[give] my microphone to Black voices by having them take over my account and share their experience." She also invited Exeter to be one of the voices taking over the account.
However, after CTV announced that it was pulling I Do, Redo later that day, Mulroney made another statement in which she acknowledged that she had threatened legal action against Exeter, saying she had been "wrong" and was "truly sorry."
Exeter has not posted about Mulroney's apologies and did not respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.