The third season of The Dragon Prince, Netflix’s hit animated fantasy series, may forever be stained by allegations made against the show’s co-creator, Aaron Ehasz. Accusations from two of Ehasz’s former employees at Wonderstorm (the studio he co-founded with Justin Richmond and Justin Santistevan to create Dragon Prince), and a former co-worker at Riot Games, describe a pattern of misogynistic behavior toward female employees.
In a public statement on Twitter, and in direct comments to Inverse, Ehasz and Wonderstorm denied the allegations.
“Wonderstorm fully supports Aaron,” Justin Richmond told Inverse this week.
An “incredibly painful” experience
On November 5, Danika Harrod, the former Head of Community Development at Wonderstorm, confirmed in a series of tweets that she had left the company earlier this year, describing her time there as “incredibly painful” and writing that she was “scared to talk publicly” about the experience.
“Everything Danika said is 100% true,” Younes wrote, “and she’s not even scraping the top of the pile. There’s so much horrible stuff, you have no idea.”
Both women declined to speak to Inverse, explaining through a third party that they were afraid to break non-disparagement agreements (which are common practice in the entertainment industry). However, their tweets describe a troubling workplace.
“It was just so much shutting women down, not taking women seriously, not listening to women, firing a woman and then shit talking her,” Harrod tweeted. She continued, “when I started there were four women there, 3 of us queer women, our voices were not heard when it came to discussions of women, discussions of lgbtq+ characters and themes, and sometimes even jokes were made in response to concerns.”
“The general feeling was always… this is Aaron’s company, Aaron’s show, Aaron’s stories to tell (yes, even the ones about women, POC, and LGBTQ+ characters),” she added, “and if you didn’t agree you were constantly at risk.”
After these allegations, at least one Dragon Prince fan also revealed Direct Message conversations in which Ehasz promised them that characters on the show were LGBTQ+ representative, which Harrod described as a “flat out lie.”
In an official statement on Twitter, Ehasz denied these claims, writing:
“In the past few days, some unfounded allegations were raised. While I am imperfect, these allegations are distorted and exaggerated. Many of you know me and you know they don’t reflect who I am or what Wonderstorm stands for.”
When Inverse reached out with additional questions, we received the following response from company President and co-founder Justin Santistevan:
> “Our writer’s room is small but diverse, and we love storytelling that celebrates different voices and perspectives. While not every idea gets in, each writer and writer’s assistant has had a huge influence on the season. Regarding the specifics, we can’t go beyond Aaron’s Twitter post without violating individual personnel and privacy issues.”
The Riot connection
Aaron Ehasz is best known as the head writer on Avatar: The Last Airbender, while Justin Richmond’s credits include Game Director on the beloved Uncharted video game franchise. However, they both also worked at Riot Games, along with Santistevan, a company with a very well-documented toxic and sexist work environment.
When asked how Wonderstorm attempted to avoid a similar workplace, the company declined to comment. However, Diandra Lasrado, one of Ehasz’s former co-workers at Riot, spoke up on Twitter, drawing a connection between Ehasz’s recent alleged actions and his behavior back in 2012 when he was hired on as Creative Director at the video game developer.
“My job was to work with narrative and enforce a style and make sure things stayed consistent,” Lasrado tweeted. “I took my job very seriously.” She continued, “Aaron had me do small tasks like arrange his meetings, personally remind him about his appointments, and try and arrange things for his convenience.”
“We don’t want any boycotts”
Despite these allegations, and many others on Twitter, the women accusing Ehasz of this behavior aren’t calling for fans to boycott The Dragon Prince ahead of its Season 3 release.
“We don’t want any boycotts on The Dragon Prince,” Lasadro tells Inverse. “The show is made by more than one person. A lot of good people made Dragon Prince, and you get to enjoy the things you get to enjoy.”
In a statement on Twitter, Harrod echoed this sentiment:
“I do not want TDP to get boycotted because a boycott won’t change the men at the top’s behavior, but people need to understand Aaron is a LIAR and a MASTER MANIPULATOR. he should tell fans about the licensing agreement with Netflix and quit capitalizing on everyone’s dedication to TDP.”
Younes offered a similar sentiment on her Twitter, suggesting that it will take change from the inside for the company’s culture to improve:
Let me make something clear; I don’t want to boycott TDP, or crush Aaron, or anything like that. I want change. I want something like this to not happen again at Wonderstorm. But for change, you have to acknowledge the mistakes. If you care about making a workplace a healthy environment, take steps to prove it. If you don’t understand yourself as well as you think you did, get therapy. If you don’t want to do that, put someone else in charge of leading people. The bottom line is to try. Try to understand, try to improve. My experience was real.”
With Wonderstorm’s employees afraid to speak and the company declining to go into detail on these allegations, we may never know exactly what caused these women to leave the company.
If you work or have worked at Wonderstorm and want to share your story, please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.