Ever since Alexandra Shipp took on the role of Aailyah in the heavily panned Lifetime biopic “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B,” she’s hasn’t had the best relationship with the folks on Black Twitter.
Now, there’s a chance the actress will receive even more backlash for an interview she did with Heroine Magazine, where she talked about colorism in entertainment.
Part of the interview had to do with comments made by the actress Amandla Stenberg, who backed out of “Black Panther” because she didn’t want to take a role away from a dark skinned person.
“These are all dark skin actors playing Africans, and I feel like it would have just been off to see me as a biracial American with a Nigerian accent just pretending that I’m the same color as everyone else in the movie,” she said a few weeks back.
Shipp, however, expressed a different opinion when some were upset that she scored the role of Storm in the film “X-Men: Apocalypse,” since the comic book character is of a darker complexion. At the time, the 26-year-old said she’s been defending her skin tone since childhood, and she won’t let the criticism break her down.
“What I experienced on Twitter, which I personally had no idea the grandiose of speaking on it, I was speaking on a personal experience, and I feel like I was this metaphorical straw that broke this interracial camel’s back,” she said. “I wasn’t trying to offend anyone, but at the same time if my work offends you, let’s take a step back and ask why my personal experience is offensive to you?”
“When we’re talking about the reality of the situation, I’m not wearing black face, I’m not putting on a prosthetic nose or lips, I’m not trying to kink my hair up so that I can have a fro, I have a fro,” Shipp added. “I wake up with it every morning, and I go to bed with it every night. But if someone said ‘Alex, we want you to play this historical figure but we’re going to have to darken you up,’ I would respectfully decline.”
“I would be like there are so many incredible actresses that don’t have to alter their appearances that would do this job justice, but as a woman of color, you can’t tell me that I can’t play a woman of color because I don’t match the Crayola marker from 1975 when they drew the comic. That makes no sense,” she explained.
The Phoenix native also said the only way to have more inclusion in entertainment is to take on roles that weren’t written for Black women.
On top of that, the “Straight Outta Compton” actress didn’t seem to agree with Stenberg’s decision to back out of “Black Panther” and said doing the same thing doesn’t really change anything.
“If this keeps becoming a conversation about my skin tone rather than my artistry, then I’m willing to have that conversation respectfully,” Shipp explained. “But majority of the time it’s like ‘Oh, you should give up the role in order to allow other actresses,’ and I’m like ‘You guys know that if I don’t take it, there’s a girl below me and if she doesn’t take it, there’s a girl below her.’ If all of us banned together in a perfect world and say no, this is meant for a dark-skinned actress, the studio would say you’ve lost your damn mind and hire a younger, light skinned actress.”
“The only way we can create social change is not by denying ourselves roles but taking the roles, changing the way that people see those roles and making them our own,” she added. “Saying not only am I a Black woman, I’m my own Black woman, I’m my own person, in these socially constructed confines, and I’m not going to let anyone define that for me but myself.”