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Melissa McCarthy's Story About a Toxic Workplace That Made Her 'Physically Ill' Is Sadly Relatable

Melissa McCarthy once worked on a Hollywood set so toxic and “hostile,” it took a toll on her mental and physical health.

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In a recent interview with The Guardian, McCarthy, 52, spoke candidly about a negative experience she had while working on an unspecified project earlier in her career. The Oscar-nominated actress is currently doing promo for her upcoming role as Ursula in Disney’s live-action version of The Little Mermaid.

“I did work for someone once who ran such a volatile, hostile set that it made me physically ill,” she revealed. “My eyes were swelling up; I was absorbing all of this nuttiness.”

According to McCarthy, one person on set was the source of the toxicity. She didn’t name this person either, but she did state that they had enough power and authority to fire people, which her and others “quiet” for quite some time.

“There were people weeping, visibly so upset by this one person,” she said. “And I think that’s why the manipulation worked, because to get to me, this person would fire people I loved, which kept me quiet. It was very effective.”

Ultimately, McCarthy reached her personal breaking point and called this person out: “One day, I was like, ‘It stops today!’” she continued. “I just kept saying to them, it stops, it stops.”

  • Anyone who has ever worked with a toxic boss or coworkers can see themselves in McCarthy’s story.

    Image Credit: Getty Images

    Take it from McCarthy: Your wellbeing matters, and it’s never okay for your coworkers to jeopardize your physical and mental health with harmful, hostile behavior.

    McCarthy’s story will likely resonate with anyone who has ever worked with a toxic boss or colleague — and unfortunately, this appears to be pretty common. According to a 2022 survey from Career Plug, 87 percent of employees said they had experienced a “negative [professional] atmopshere” that impeded their ability to work or progress in their field.

    Research indicates that experiencing harassment, bullying, or ostracization at work can cause employees to feel anxious, depressed, unnecessarily stressed, or burnt out. Since stress can negatively impact your physical health if left unchecked, it’s easy to see how working in a toxic environment can wreak havoc on your mind and body.

    Toxicity on the job also negatively impacts workers’ organizational engagement and productivity. In other words, it’s a lose-lose situation.

  • McCarthy has inspired at least one other actress to speak up about unfair treatment at work.

    Image Credit: FilmMagic

    McCarthy’s awful experience in a toxic workplace taught her an important lesson about setting and enforcing boundaries. Now, she knows she will “never keep quiet again” if she encounters hostility or harassment at work.

    The prolific actress has shared this wisdom with at least one other Hollywood name: Halle Bailey, her Little Mermaid co-star. Speaking to CNN, the 23-year-old singer-turned-actress credited McCarthy with encouraging her to “speak up and [say] what works for [her].”

    “She was telling me, ‘Yeah, I had to learn. I wasn’t always this way, and when you’re young, you’re timid,’” Bailey told the news outlet. We love to see it!

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