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Actress Anjelika Washington Speaks Candidly About Her Experience with Stunt Double Who Wore Blackface

“Stargirl” actress Anjelika Washington recently spoke about a time during a previous gig where the show hired a white stunt double who performed in blackface.

While Washington didn’t reveal on which show this incident took place, she did, however, say it was her fourth job as an actor, and the incident happened in Los Angeles in 2017. Her IMDb page suggests it most likely occurred during the Go90 series “Versus,” which is listed as her fourth TV project, and which also happened to release in 2017.

The 22-year-old shared the news on her Instagram account on Thursday, July 16, when she posted a photo of herself awkwardly smiling next to her stunt double, who is wearing a kinky textured wig with her body covered in dark brown paint. “I was very uncomfortable (as anyone would be to meet your double in blackface) so I spoke for myself.,” the actress wrote in the caption. She added, “I pulled one of our producers aside and asked, ‘Why isn’t my stunt double Black like me?’ Isn’t that the point of a double? She responded, ‘Sure. But we couldn’t find a Black stunt double in L.A. Los Angeles doesn’t have many Black stunt performers. But aren’t you happy to be working? You should be thankful to be here.'”

Washington admits she felt “powerless, voiceless, and somehow ungrateful.” She continued, “There’s this oppressive thing that often happens when everyone and everything is ran by white people on sets (and in any industry) where they try to manipulate POC into just being GRATEFUL to be there.”

Washington went on to express that experiences like hers explain why it’s extremely important to have diversity behind the camera as well as in front of it. “They do this to us because they know that they literally run the show, even though most times it’s just to check a box,” Washington explained.  

She added, “They often don’t check to see if we are comfortable with what they are asking of us, they often call us unprofessional or a diva for advocating for ourselves, and most times they get away with paying us way less than our costars. This is why being inclusive and hiring POC in front of the camera and behind it is extremely imperative.”

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Flashback to 2017. My 4th job as an actor, my first recurring guest star, and my first time having a stunt double— and they painted her black. I was very uncomfortable (as anyone would be to meet your double in blackface) so I spoke up for myself, I pulled one of our producers aside and asked “Why isn’t my stunt double black like me? Isn’t that the point of a “double?” She responded “Sure. But we couldn’t find a black stunt double in LA. Los Angeles doesn’t have many black stunt performers. But aren’t you happy to be working? You should be thankful to be here.” ….I immediately started to question myself: “Do I sound ungrateful? Am I complaining? Maybe this is just how it is?” So I said “okay.”, I sat down in my chair, shut up, and tried to think positive thoughts. (Hence my smile in this photo) But really, I felt powerless, voiceless, and somehow ungrateful…. Anyone who knows me knows that “grateful” is one of my favorite words and feelings. So in this moment I felt like somehow I was in the wrong for speaking up for myself. But NO, she was wrong. See, there’s this oppressive thing that often happens when everyone and everything are ran by white people on sets (and in any industry) where they try to manipulate POC into just being GRATEFUL to be there. They do this to us because they know that they *literally* run the show. They feel like a savior for giving a young black girl a role in their show, even though most times it’s just to check a box. They often don’t check to see if we are comfortable with what they are asking of us, they often call us unprofessional or a diva for advocating for ourselves, and most times they get away with paying us wayyy less than our costars…. This is why being inclusive and hiring POC in front of the camera and behind it, is extremely imperative. Luckily for me, I kicked ass in my action scenes and my stunt double wasn’t even used. But the thing is, the whole time I kept telling myself “I have to be great. No, I have to be better than great. I have to be so amazing that they don’t need her. No one can know that I have a stunt double in blackface.” **more to the story: Rest in comments**

A post shared by Anjelika Washington (@anjelikaw) on

Washington said that she pulled her action scenes off so well that her stunt double wasn’t used, but “the whole time I kept telling myself ‘I have to be great. No, I have to be better than great. I have to be so amazing that they don’t need her. No one can know that I have a stunt double in blackface.'”

Washington’s peers commented on her post, including “Station 19” star Jason Winston George and “Riverdale” actor Hayley Law, who revealed they too had similar experiences with their stunt doubles. George disclosed that he is on the national board of The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and is attempting to help out nonwhite stunt doubles, so he wanted to get more details on Washington’s experience. 

The actress followed up her lengthy post with another comment vowing never to allow those types of micro and macro aggressions to happen to her again. “We must value ourselves higher even if they call us a diva,” she wrote. “We must use our voice even if they call us loud. We must demand equality even if they call us ungrateful. The next generation depends on us. #blacklivesmatter.”

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