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Actor Harold Perrineau Defends Daughter Against Colorism in Hollywood

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Aurora Perrineau as Shana

Jem and the Holograms actress Aurora Perrineau has come under attack for being considered by most fans to be too light skinned to be the film’s only Black character, Shana. Veteran actor and father Harold Perrineau pens a letter for The Wrap defending his daughter from those attacks.

“Aurora is the product of a Caucasian mother and a Black father and is therefore not qualified or not ‘Black’ enough to play a Black character from an animated series, according to some people. Her Blackness or lack thereof is so offensive to some that they’ve written articles about it. They’ve gone onto social media and spewed their vitriol directly at her. Some went so far as to suggest that she “kill herself” for taking the role. All, without ever seeing her work in the role. All this anger based solely on the color of her skin.”

Colorism in Hollywood casting as always been a problem when it comes to Black characters. The biggest example of this is the casting of Halle Berry as Storm. Many fans wanted a darker Black woman to portray the weather goddess but she has remained in the role no matter how bad she may have been. The issue came back up when Alexandra Shipp was cast as a young Storm for the upcoming 2016 film,  X-Men: Apocalypse. 

The character Shana from Jem and the Holograms has a lot in common with Storm. They both have been dark-skinned for the majority of their history but lightened when adapted to big screen. It appears that Hollywood shies away from dark-skinned Black actresses, even though they would perfectly suit characters, like Storm.

This preference for light skin harkens back to the darkest times of racial tensions in this country, when the color of a paper bag was the standard for Black beauty in television and film. Light-skinned Black women and dark-skinned Black women have always been pitted against one another throughout American history. In many cases, lighter women have won out by getting more opportunities because of their skin, while darker women were denied chances to show off their talents. Prime examples include Dorthy Dandridge, Ruby Dee, Lena Horn, and many other talented women who “passed” the paper bag test. This was beautifully illustrated in Spike Lee’s 1988 film, School Daze.

Unfortunately, Aurora Perrineau is thrust into this discussion unwillingly. Actor Harold Perrineau has every right to defend his daughter but he must take into account the issues of colorism in Hollywood and the Black community. It is very likely this trend will continue. It is up to the actors and actresses themselves to say something or not take the role at all.

Jem and the Holograms is currently in theaters.

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