Nia Long believes that race played a factor when she didn’t land the part of Alex Munday in the 2000 film version of “Charlie’s Angels,” a popular TV show from the ’70s and early ’80s.
The veteran actress recently spoke about her theory in an interview with Insider. The role she auditioned for eventually went to Lucy Liu, who starred with Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz.
According to Long, the film’s decision-makers said that she “looked too old” to play opposite Barrymore, but Long feels that being Black is the real reason she was denied the part.
Long is four years older than Barrymore and two years younger than Liu.
“I was like, ‘What?'” said Long in the July 15 interview. “I love Drew Barrymore, I think she’s amazing, but I think that was just a nice way to say you’re a little too Black. Personally, that’s what I think. Because if you notice there were no brown-skin [actors]. I mean, honestly, I would have been the blackest thing in the film.”
The “Boyz n the Hood” actress also said that she found it strange that “Charlie’s Angels” director Joseph “McG” Nichol seemed to base his decision on how she was dressed at the audition instead of using her look to build Munday’s character.
“The feedback that I received from my agent was, ‘She just looked too old and sophisticated to be next to Drew Barrymore,'” Long explained.
“And I’m thinking to myself, it’s an actor’s choice to walk in the room how they want to look, but it’s a director’s vision to help create and curate a character,” she added. “So if you couldn’t see beyond the fact that I had on a blazer and a pair of jeans then that was clearly not the job and opportunity for me. So no problem, I’ll keep it moving.”
Long’s interview comes shortly after actress Thandie Newton spoke with Vulture and said that she quit “Charlie’s Angels” after receiving racist and sexist treatment. Newton called out McG and former Sony Studio chief Amy Pascal in the July 7 interview.
“One of the biggest movies I didn’t end up doing was because the director said to me, ‘I can’t wait for this. The first shot is going to be … You’re going to think it’s like yellow lines down a road, and you pull back and you realize it’s the stitching, because the denim is so tight on your a-s it’s going to look like tarmac,'” Newton said McG told her. “I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think we’re going to go down this road together.'”
Newton also claimed that Pascal wanted her to use Black stereotypes to make her part more believable.
“I had a meeting with her, and she said, ‘Look, I don’t mean to be politically incorrect, but the character as written and you playing the role, I just feel like we’ve got to make sure that it’s believable,'” Newton described. “I was like, ‘What do you mean? What changes would you have to make?'”
“She’s like, ‘Well, you know, the character, as written, she’s been to university and is educated,'” Newton continued. “I’m like, ‘I’ve been to university. I went to Cambridge.’ She went, ‘Yeah, but you’re different.’ She’s like, ‘Maybe there could be a scene where you’re in a bar and she gets up on a table and starts shaking her booty.’ She’s basically reeling off these stereotypes of how to be more convincing as a Black character.”
Pascal responded to Newton’s claims, and while she claimed to be “horrified,” she didn’t own up to them.
“While I take her words seriously, I have no recollection of the events she describes, nor do any of her representatives who were present at that casting session,” said Pascal in a statement. “I’ve long considered Thandie a friend; I’m thankful that I’ve had the chance to make movies with her; and I hope to work with her again in the future.”
Pascal was terminated from her position at Sony Pictures in 2015 after hackers got into Sony’s emails and revealed that she sent racist messages to producer Scott Rudin.
One of those messages said that Barack Obama would rather see films like “Django Unchained” and “12 Years a Slave” since they star Black people.
During her interview with Insider, Long said that she’s aware of Newton’s interview about her “Charlie’s Angels” experience and is glad that more Black women are speaking out about how they’ve been treated in Hollywood.