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Nickelodeon alums allege being 'overlooked' as Black child actors, 'torture' sketches

Giovonnie Samuels and Bryan Hearne are among the former Nickelodeon stars featured in the upcoming docuseries "Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV."

Nickelodeon alums Giovonnie Samuels and Bryan Hearne are speaking out about their experiences under Dan Schneider's reign.

The former All That cast members discuss working with the embattled series creator and the allegations of an inappropriate work environment at the center of Investigation Discovery's upcoming four-part docuseries Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, debuting March 17.

Samuels starred in the kids sketch comedy series between 2000 and 2004, while Hearne starred between 2000 and 2002.

When asked what it was like to work with Schneider, Hearne replied, "You’re asking the two Black children on a Nickelodeon set where—"

"We were overlooked," Samuels added.

Both Samuels and Hearne worked on sketches that were written by Schneider, including "On Air Dare." Samuels called those sketches "torture moments for all of us."

In one dare, Hearne recalled being covered in peanut butter and then being licked by dogs, claiming that the opposition he voiced to the sketch was ignored. "I was saying, 'I don’t like this' and to have voiced it—"

"And to be ignored as, 'Oh, it’s funny,'" Samuels added.

The former child stars hope that the docuseries will spark important discussions about the treatment of child actors. "Your childhood is gonna be a little tainted after watching it, but I hope that it helps you protect the next group of kids that comes up," Samuels said.

<p>Gregg DeGuire/WireImage (2)</p> Bryan Hearne and Giovonnie Samuels during their 'All That' days

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage (2)

Bryan Hearne and Giovonnie Samuels during their 'All That' days

When reached by EW for comment on the interview, a spokesperson for Schneider cited Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell's Kenan & Kel series and Good Burger movie, among others, and said, "Dan Schneider has a long history of prominently featuring Black actors in his television shows. ... In addition, Dan’s hit shows Zoey 101, Victorious, and Henry Danger all featured main characters that were Black."

The spokesperson equated the on-air dares to Fear Factor and said they were all pitched by writers and approved by the network. "All stories, dialogue, costumes, and makeup were fully approved by network executives on two coasts.  A standards and practices group read and ultimately approved every script, and programming executives reviewed and approved all episodes," the spokesperson said, adding that parents and caregivers were on set during filming and rehearsals. "Had there been any scenes that were inappropriate in any way, they would have been flagged and blocked by this multilayered scrutiny."

Nickelodeon didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment, but told ABC that while it "cannot corroborate or negate allegations of behaviors from productions decades ago, Nickelodeon as a matter of policy investigates all formal complaints as part our commitment to fostering a safe and professional workplace environment free of harassment or other kinds of inappropriate conduct,"

Quiet on Set will explore other behind-the-scenes on set allegations from actors and writers of other Nickelodeon shows from the 1990s and early 2000s, including allegations of sexual misconduct. A preview of the doc released last week featured Drake Bell alleging sexual abuse against former dialogue coach Brian Peck, a registered sex offender.

Samuels said of the allegations, "It broke my heart. I cried."

"We weren't close with Drake but we were around him," Hearne added. "He was a legend. And so, to find out that he was being harmed . . . it infuriated me."

This piece has been updated to reflect the statement from Schneider's spokesperson.

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