Johnson says popular “Body Break” series was created to battle racism

Johnson says popular “Body Break” series was created to battle racism

Television personality Hal Johnson, who co-hosted the Canadian health and fitness segment “Body Break,” said the long-running series was started to combat racism.

In a four-minute YouTube video, Johnson said he was hired by TSN to be a sports reporter in 1988.

Later that day, he said he received another call from the same person saying that he wouldn’t get the job after all because network executives said TSN already had a Black reporter and didn’t want to have two.

TSN, a division of Bell Media, issued an apology via a statement Tuesday afternoon.

“We apologize to Hal Johnson for the racism he experienced at TSN beginning in 1988, a shameful part of our past, and thank him for sharing his story as a reminder of the impact of racism in Canadian media that continues today. We recognize that even 30 years later, there is still much work to do to improve our commitment to on-air and editorial diversity.

“As a first step, TSN is part of Bell Media’s recently announced Content Diversity Task Force, which as part of its mandate is committed to amplifying voices from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of colour) on-air talent.”

In the video, Johnson also described a commercial shoot at a Toronto racetrack in 1988, where he was joined by two white actors to rehearse a cheering scene. He said that before they shot the scene, a director asked the white woman to sit beside the white man instead of Johnson.

Johnson asked the assistant director about the switch afterwards and was told the client didn’t want the white woman to be seen sitting beside a Black man.

Johnson wondered to himself how he could change things, and after meeting Joanne McLeod, Body Break was born.

Johnson said he was met with resistance when shopping Body Break around to Canadian companies though. He was told the Canadian public wasn’t ready for a Black and white couple.

The two pitched Body Break to Participaction, a federal government program for healthy living, and went on to create 65 Body Break episodes, which were a television fixture for a generation of Canadians.

Johnson and McLeod also appeared on “The Amazing Race Canada” in 2013.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press

racism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Be on the lookout for Comet NEOWISE

Big Dipper’s bottom two stars point to comet

Alberta conservationist stunned by police surveillance of meeting with minister

A well-known conservationist who met with an Alberta cabinet minister at a… Continue reading

Bank of Canada set to make rate announcement, release economic outlook

OTTAWA — The Bank of Canada will make its latest interest rate… Continue reading

Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales rose 10.7 per cent in May

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales rose in May after posting… Continue reading

Virus resurgence forces countries to reimpose restrictions

PROMACHONAS, Greece — Countries around the world are reimposing lockdowns and implementing… Continue reading

Central Alberta Co-op donates 50k to Lacombe high school for goat barn

Central Alberta Co-op is helping a local school program in Lacombe with… Continue reading

COVID-19 isn’t like a war

The collective effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic has been called the… Continue reading

Michael Dawe: This isn’t the first summer Red Deer’s fair has been cancelled

Normally, today, July 15, would have been the start of the annual… Continue reading

If you visit Sylvan Lake, take your garbage home with you

This past weekend saw the invasion of our quiet town with people… Continue reading

The futility of hoping for justice persists in the Balkans

“Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown,” says an old friend to Jack Nicholson… Continue reading

Three all-Canadian exhibition games part of NHL’s relaunch in Toronto, Edmonton

NEW YORK — The NHL has unveiled further details on the schedule… Continue reading

U.S. COVID-19 situation complicates Blue Jays’ plans to play at home: Njoo

OTTAWA — Canada’s deputy public health officer says the federal government would… Continue reading

Picasso portrait expected to fetch up to $1.6 million at Heffel online auction

TORONTO — A portrait by Pablo Picasso is among the artworks on… Continue reading

Most Read