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7 Items Exposing Hollywood’s Obsession with Promoting Light-Skinned Black Characters

Hollywood has made little progress in the last century when it comes to colorism. Both dark- and light-skinned Blacks continue to be cast in roles that perpetuate color hierarchy or white supremacy in our communities.

Casting directors are in the habit of only — or mostly — hiring non-European actors and actresses with lighter skin tones because they assume that they will be more attractive to their largely ethnic-European audiences. Dark-skinned Black female actresses are especially negatively impacted by this.

Here are seven ways that Hollywood’s obsession with promoting light skin over dark skin is exposed.


black beauty collage

In Hollywood today, the biggest Black entertainers right now could probably all pass a brown paper bag test (Beyoncé, Rihanna, Halle Berry, Mariah Carey, Tyra Banks, Alicia Keys.) The best roles have mostly gone to lighter-skinned or multiracial actresses who fall within Eurocentric standards of beauty, including Berry, Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, Pam Grier, Shari Belafonte, Rae Dawn Chong, Cynda Williams, Rosario Dawson, Thandie Newton, Zoe Saldana, Rashida Jones and Paula Patton.


race lupita 1Only One Lupita

There has never been a Black actress of Lupita Nyong’o’s ebony skin tone to ascend to Hollywood’s A-list status.

What people are saying

10 thoughts on “7 Items Exposing Hollywood’s Obsession with Promoting Light-Skinned Black Characters

  1. black is beautiful and those hollywood people are jealous that they have no melin in their albino skin.

  2. Forest Brown says:

    I know You didn't forget Ms Cicely Tyson!!

  3. Arthur Teko Dawson says:

    I don't agree with the article's position.

  4. Evangelist Marvin Little says:

    The darker you are the more you are hated. Point blank.
    It was part of the Jim Crow era. They told light skin people they can be classified as a mulatto.
    Black people were called colored or Negro which means the mulatto had more rights and access to things. But yet, White people pay more for Black people organs and inject melanin to get tan and brown skin. But we suppose to be inferior. Racism is nothing but jealousy to people that have the birth right and blessing from God. Esau came out red. Bold shows through the skin.
    Learn this and more at Hidden History – Hebrew / Bible.

  5. Evangelist Marvin Little says:

    It's real.

  6. I get what this article is saying, but I think in places it gets too general in its approach. For instance, citing Spike Lee as having cast light skinned actresses on certain roles… I believe in Mo Better Blues and she's gotta have it, as well as Do the right Thing, there was Dark skinned woman who played a major and unforgettable role in each. Are we saying light skinned women should not be cast? If so, that's not the way to go. I think we should share the spot light though it shouldn't mean we're kicking each other to the curb.

  7. Marjorie Michel says:

    In regards, to Spike , the author gets this all wrong. I think the author forgot the plot of School Daze. The WHOLE movie is about the this issue. In Mo Better Blues – Joie gets Denzel. There is nothing ambiguous about the way she looks. In Jungle Fever, there is a WHOLE scene addressing the issue. Lonette McKee's casting is purporsely done, because she isn't even light enough, for Wesley Snipes' character. 25th Hour ( one of my favorites ) Rosario is the ONLY person of color in a major role. Theresa Randle, has the lead in Girl 6, obviously a beautiful black woman. Alfre Woodard in Crooklyn. I think this author needs a fact checker.

  8. Yes, I think the author went on a tangent towards the end when talking about Spike Lee. Spike has women of different colors, but many of the primary roles have gone to women of darker color… Hell, his first feature was "She's Gotta Have It" with Tracy Camilla Johns. So while i agree with the purpose of the article, i disagree with the last portion regarding Spike Lee.

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