Destiny, who recently starred on the now-canceled Fox musical drama “Star,” is set to join the Freeform series as a transfer student named Jillian. She’ll join Yara Shahidi’s character, Zoey, and company at Cal U after transferring from a historically Black college or university as a filmmaking major, the series’ official Twitter account posted July 8.
“Jillian can talk art and music with Luca (Luka Sabbat), politics and activism with Aaron (Trevor Jackson), and also fits right in with Zoey (Yara Shahidi) and her eclectic crew of girls,” Shadow and Act reported the character description states.
Upon learning about Destiny’s addition to the show, many on Twitter celebrated the 24-year-old singer-actress’ inclusion.
“My girl !!!!”
“Yesssss its bouta be mad litt.”
“She’s already my favorite character everyone else go home.”
“Yess darkskin representation.”
But for some, there were concerns about how Destiny’s character would be portrayed as a dark-skinned Black woman.
“oh & can we PLEASE not make her an antagonist or a mean girl. I’m so sick of those tired tropes and characters that they always place darker black women as.”
“loveeee Ryan but already hate the ‘transferred from HBCU storyline’ they better not mention one thing about Howard.”
“They probably gonna make her the ‘ghetto’ one 🙄”
“Aww look. #GrownIsh @grownish finally listen to their fans and added a dark skinned woman. Too bad she’s the token dark skin. #ryandestiny @grownish smh. We are always the afterthought 🙄”
Even before “Grown-ish” premiered at the top of 2018, fans voiced concern over the casting, which failed to include any dark-skinned actors or actresses. When a Twitter user tried to engage with a dialogue about the issue with Shahidi months after the show debuted, she was accused of blocking the social media user instead of having a discussion on the matter.
That April, Shahidi explained to Essence magazine that she recognizes colorism exists saying, “I get that within the black community there are a couple of us who are chosen, not by any fault of our own, to represent [everyone].”
By August 2018, it appeared Shahidi was fully aware of the Twitter user’s problem with the lack of dark-skin representation. A write-up in The Hollywood Reporter saw “Grown-ish” creator Kenya Barris saying he defaulted to her for the series’ recent push to cast a broader range of skin tones.