Jurnee Smollett-Bell Gets Real About Colorism In Hollywood: ‘It’s Gross and Disgusting’

Actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell graces the March 2017 cover of Ebony.

After the mega-success of WGN’s “Underground,” actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell has seen a resurgence in her long, storied career in Hollywood. Recently, the 30-year-old actress spoke to EBONY Magazine for their March Women’s Month issue about the hit show and how colorism in Hollywood impacts Black actors.

At a very young age, she was appearing in hit shows like “Full House” and in movies like “Eve’s Bayou,” and she continues to work in the industry today. Even though she is grateful for her enduring career, Smollett-Bell pointed out that her skin has given her an advantage.

“There are obstacles and challenges that my dark-skinned sisters face that I will never know,” Smollett-Bell said. “How they are perceived when they walk in a room of strangers is something I will never truly know. I would be ignorant to say colorism doesn’t exist. It’s gross and disgusting.”

Currently, she portrays enslaved woman and plantation owner’s daughter Rosalee on “Underground,” a show depicting the uprising of enslaved Black people and their pursuit of freedom. Initially, her character struggled with the idea of running away, but as the season progressed, viewers witnessed her growth.

“We had seen the occupation so much, we wanted to see the revolution and that is what ‘Underground’ is,” she told Ebony. “It was the story of the uprising. It was the story of those of us who fought back, who attempted to fight for their freedom. That was a side of the story we were hungry to see in order to understand our whole history.”

“Underground” has resonated with viewers, garnering a second season, where Rosalee’s journey will continue.

“She’s running toward the danger because her mission is to get her family back,” the actress said. “So, the stakes are just so much higher in season two.”


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