Just as the conflict over Covid-19 vaccine mandates continues on social media and in the political arena, it also continues to impact the entertainment industry. The latest victim of the controversy is Fox’s hit procedural 9-1-1. Rockmund Dunbar — who has played Michael Grant since the series’ premiere in 2018 — has left the show over Disney’s company-wide vaccine mandate.
Rockmund Dunbar’s character abruptly left the series at the end of Monday night’s episode, announcing that he was moving to Haiti with his fiancee David. In a statement to Deadline, Dunbar confirmed he’d exited the show over the vaccine mandate. The actor wrote that that he had applied for both religious and medical exemptions, but was denied. Dunbar assured Deadline he had no intention of publicly sharing his “sincerely held beliefs and private medical history.” The actor ended his statement expressing appreciation for his time on 9-1-1 and well wishes for his former coworkers.
Per Reuters, at the end of July Disney — Fox’s parent company — made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all of its employees in the United States. As a result, Rockmund Dunbar wasn’t the first Disney employee to leave rather than comply with the mandate. In September, ESPN sportscaster Alison Williams tweeted the news that she was leaving the network. Even though the CDC recommends women planning to become pregnant to take the Covid-19 vaccine and states there’s no evidence to suggest it has any impact on fertility, Williams said she didn’t want to take the vaccine because she was hoping to have a second child.
ABC is another company owned by Disney, and the network’s long-running daytime soap opera General Hospital recently lost an actor who had been a regular since 1996 over the question of vaccination. Ingo Rademacher — who played Jasper “Jax” Jacks on the series — was written off the show after he refused to comply with Disney’s vaccine mandates. Unlike Rockmund Dunbar — who, Deadline reports, is not an anti-vaxxer and sees his decision as a personal one — Rademacher has been quite vocal about his anti-vaccination views and his departure wasn’t much of a surprise.
At the end of October, the upcoming Sony comedy Oh Hell No suffered a much higher profile exit when rapper and actor Ice Cube left the movie reportedly after being asked to comply with a vaccine mandate. Yahoo News reports Ice Cube left a $9 million payday behind when he left. The movie got a double whammy when it as further delayed by Jack Black’s injury.
In the meantime, there’s one actor many have been speculating could join the club Rockmund Dunbar, Ice Cube, and other unvaccinated actors are currently members of. Rumors have been emerging for months that Letitia Wright could lose her role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever because of her vocal anti-vaccination stance. Her on-set injury which has delayed production until early 2022 could potentially cause even more delays than we already know. As reported by THR, on November 8 the CDC instituted a new rule requiring all non-immigrant, non-citizens flying into the US to be vaccinated, and Wright is currently recuperating in London. If Wright remains unvaccinated when it’s time to come back to work and the CDC hasn’t rescinded the rule, Wakanda Forever‘s production could be in danger.
As for Rockmund Dunbar, time will tell how badly his unvaccinated status hurts his acting career. The actor is set to star in the upcoming snowmobile thriller Red Winter, though filming on that has already wrapped. Deadline reports that 9-1-1‘s producers intentionally left his character’s departure open-ended in case the opportunity for Dunbar to return to the series should emerge.