Nicole Beharie is opening up about her 2016 departure from the Fox series Sleepy Hollow.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the actress recalled her brief experience as the supernatural drama's female black lead, which ended after her character Abbie Mills was killed off in the season 3 finale in 2016. The show was canceled a year later.
"What happened on Sleepy Hollow is really interesting," Beharie, 35, told the newspaper. "We had a lot of things happen that paralleled the conversations that are happening in this moment."
Beharie, who revealed in 2019 that she left the show due to her battle with an autoimmune condition, said she struggled to shoot while sick.
"My costar and I were both sick at the same time but I don't believe that we were treated equally," said Beharie, referencing her her white male costar Tom Mison, who played Ichabod Crane. "He was allowed to go back to England for a month [to recover while] I was given episode 9 to shoot on my own. So I pushed through it and then by the end of that episode I was in urgent care. And all the doctors, including the doctors that the studio was sending, were all confirming, 'Hey, she can't work right now.'"
"There's a lot of pressure in a situation like that where so many people are relying on you alone to get up and get going," she continued. "I feel like it's taken me the last few years to really see clearly that it wasn't personal, it's about the way that these structures are set up. It was very difficult to talk about at the time because I wanted to get back to work. But I was labeled as problematic and blacklisted by some people."
Fox had no comment when reached by PEOPLE. Back when Beharie departed the series, the network released a statement about the character's death a "very dramatic ending," "bold move for the show" and "poignant conclusion."
Beharie further discussed the situation in an interview with The New York Times, recalling hiring a lawyer to get her "hours down."
"When you're a person of color or a woman of any race, you can be labeled in a way that can change the trajectory of your life, health and career," she said. "I lost out on a lot of jobs and opportunities because of how somebody labeled me."
"I tried to get work afterwards and people were like, 'We heard you were difficult,'" she continued. "But no one can say I was late or unprofessional or negative."
Beharie said she's grateful for the fans that supported her online after her exit from the show, telling the Los Angeles Times that she was "shocked" by the #AbbieDeservesBetter hashtag.
"There was a fan base that, without me even really saying anything or anybody knowing what was really going on, picked up on something," she said. "I didn't really have time to take it in because we were working 16-, 18-hour days. And once I left and heard about everything, I didn't have the voice yet. I was too busy healing to really take it in."
Beharie is currently starring in Channing Godfrey Peoples' feature debut Miss Juneteenth, her first major role since Sleepy Hollow. The actress told the Los Angeles Times she's been "making sure that I'm working with the right folks" in recent years.
"Healing takes time and I feel like I'm on the other side of it," she said. "I learned a lot. I wouldn't change anything. I wouldn't wish it on anybody, though."
Acknowledging that "Hollywood is an industry that's difficult for everyone," Beharie said her particular experience has been "colored by a number of different things."
"And yeah, it has been challenging," she said. "I am reconciling what it means to be an actor and an artist and a woman of color. The consequences of making a mistake or causing a ripple in the water are greater. And ultimately, nobody wants to be [deemed] trouble. So those situations hold you back and you keep quiet, not wanting to upset anyone or ask too many questions. But I feel like I, and the world as a whole, are in a different place now and I'm happy about that."