Colorism in Movies and Television
What is colorism? Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.
When Black actors are cast:
>Lighter skinned actors generally get leading and more desirable roles such as love interest, successful professional, entertainer, etc.
>Darker skinned actors are typically cast in roles that perpetuate racial stereotypes and tropes such as best friend, assistant/help, troubled youth/gang member, etc.
>Producers cast lighter skinned actors and expect credit for their contribution to diversity.
In one example, Zoe Saldana was cast as Nina Simone but needed a prosthetic nose and to have her skin darkened to look the part.
Casting sheet for Straight Outta Compton
A GIRLS: These are the hottest. Models. MUST have real hair — no extensions, very classy looking, great bodies. You can be black, white, asian, hispanic, mid eastern or mixed race too.
B GIRLS: These are fine girls, long natural hair, really nice bodies. Small waists, nice hips. You should be light-skinned. Beyonce is a prototype here.
C GIRLS: These are African American girls, medium to light skinned with a weave.
D GIRLS: These are African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone. Character types.
When The Hate U Give was adapted, the Black lead character as depicted in the book and on the book cover were replaced by a lighter skinned actor, disappointing fans of the original who were looking forward to seeing themselves on screen.
As one writer put it, “True representation will occur when a Black girl, of any shade or hair texture, can go to the movies and watch actors that look just like her.” [attribution]
As consumers, we control what we watch and support with our time and money.
>Commit to watching a certain number of titles each month created by and featuring people who don’t look like you
>Critically consume any title you watch. Is there true representation of people of color?
>Amplify projects created by women of color. Share them on social media, tell your friends about them, and get the word out.