Former TOWIE star Vas J Morgan has opened up about his time on the show, accusing producers of ignoring his concerns about how he was portrayed.
The 31-year-old, a black gay man, appeared on the constructed reality show as a series regular between 2014 and 2018.
In a lengthy post on Instagram sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement, Morgan revealed that the show often put him into positions which perpetuated the "racial stereotype" of an "aggressive" black man.
"While I have always been proud to be one of the only black and gay reality TV stars on British television, I have often felt conflicted over the way I was treated and the way I was portrayed," he wrote.
"During the four years I filmed the show, I was almost never allowed to show any sides of my personality that wasn't angry, aggressive or negative. I was consistently put into situations that perpetuated the same racial stereotype that has been used to oppress and control black people.
"I often warned producers that I didn't feel comfortable arguing with women as regardless of my sexuality; I was a 6'2 black man. This concern was always ignored.
"It was often said to me and I felt that I was the token representation of minority in our cast, there to be paraded out as a symbol but never treated equally to the other cast members and despite having some of the most progressive and talked about scenes on the show, my story arc was never nurtured the way that my white counterparts were.
"The experiences I had on the show are part of the systematic racism that for the first time has had a spotlight put on it on a global scale. This systematic discrimination starts from the top down. From leadership positions within the network, to the writers' room, to our day to day producers."
A spokeswoman for the ITVBe show, which is made by Hollyoaks producers Lime Pictures: said: "We are concerned to have read Vas's recent comments about Towie, and got in touch with him yesterday evening in the hope we can discuss the issues he's raised at his earliest convenience."
TOWIE remains one of ITV's most popular shows, regularly attracting audiences of more than 1 million, and is due to mark its 10th anniversary later this year.