Is Denzel Washington Right to Tell His Dark Skinned Daughter to Work Harder?

November 15, 2012  |  


In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Denzel Washington said that the best advice he has given to his aspiring actress daughter Olivia is, ‘You’re black, you’re a woman, and you’re dark-skinned at that. So you have to be a triple/quadruple threat…You gotta learn how to act. You gotta learn how to dance, sing, move onstage. That’s the only place, in my humble opinion, you really learn how to act.’

The Academy award winning actor went on to say, ‘Look at Viola Davis. That’s who you want to be. Forget about the little pretty girls; if you’re relying on that, when you hit 40, you’re out the door. You better have some chops.’

And somewhere across this planet, Viola Davis is like, “Gheez, thanks a lot Denzel!”  But that’s the thing about Denzel. Even if it was meant as a back-handed slam against Davis, which I doubt it was, nobody would say anything because it is Denzel we’re talking about.  He can do or say no wrong.  However was he right to tell his daughter that she would have to work harder because of the color of her skin or is he just setting her for a lifetime of victimhood?

As famous parents go, you could not be as better situated than being the child of Denzel and Paulette Washington. Award winning actor, who was recently dubbed one of People Magazine’s sexiest men alive, Denzel should have the professional pull and connections needed to get Olivia at least started in a career in Hollywood. At the very least a Dark & Lovely No Lye Relaxer commercial on BET should be in her future. Or maybe not. Maybe everything we all suspected about Hollywood’s race and gender relations is true. I mean, it is no wonder that Halle Berry, Beyoncé and Alicia Keys, three women with lighter skin and more Caucasian features, top the list of the most sought after black stars. Even darker hued stars like Kim Wayans, Regina King and even super producer It-Girl Shonda Rhimes have all commented on the scarcities of black roles given to black actresses in general.

And let’s not forgot that only in Hollywood, would it seem okay for Zoe Saldana to portray Nina Simone.  Not that Saldana is not a capable actress but Simone’s dark skin and African features were the essence of her public and personal identity. SO much so that she actually wrote songs about it. So slapping some dark foundation and a prosthetic nose on any ole’ black woman without concern of continuity to the subject matter, just screams of whitewashing.  Maybe I’m wrong. But until we see Idris Elba or Djimon Hounsou play Jesus Christ in The Temptation of Christ Part 2, I will always have my doubts.

But this is the untold truth of what it is like living under white supremacy.  And in this regard, Washington is right to prepare his children for the realities of our society.  It’s the same advice that black parents have been giving their children for hundreds of years. So you want to make partner at your prestigious law firm, be prepared to work ten times harder than your white colleagues because you are black. And you want to make a name for yourself in the business world, well be prepared to compromise on a lot of your cultural identity. Want to be the next (formerly the first) black president, be prepared to eat lots of racial Isht, while baring and grinning, in the process.

At the same time, I’m sick of living and abiding by that world. I’m tired of telling our children to submit and to accept the idea that subjugation is a permanent state, in which they are powerless to change it. I would have preferred that his public message of advice for his daughter was that she was loved and supported.  And that her talent and beauty is bigger than the status quo, therefore there is no need to continue to support in any capacity a system that devalues, ignores and misrepresents your image.

That’s what I would prefer him to say. But it is Denzel and he can do no wrong.

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  • 1Val

    No, he shouldn’t teach her to expect colorism. I know racism exist so that is not the crux of my point here. I have a son who we reared not to react to anything other than someone calling him by his name. See my previous post in this thread referencing my son being calling the n word.
    Nowhere in my posts did I state passive aggressiveness of blacks to deny racism as a way to combat it. It takes tremendous courage and character to refuse bigots best efforts to racial dehumanize you. I disagree only rich black women marry rich black men. lol. There are some successful blacks in entertainment who marry whites simply because of their race but majority of black men are married to black women from all walks of life. I will not support Denzel teaching his daughter to have an inferiority complex because she’s a dark skin black woman.

    • sunshine

      He is not teaching her to be inferior towards whites and I think you know that too.He is simply equipping his the daughter about the existing realities of a black female in HW. It may not be what we want to hear, Buy yes black females has to be 10 times more talented to stand out. Every little thing they do, blacks has to put much more effort to stay on top of the game. He is already teaching her so that there will not be any surprises in her journey. I think he is a brilliant father for being real with his daughter. Black parents should teach these lessons to their kids, so black men will not quit school because they were not expecting their school teachers to be racist. They will no that yes you will be targeted, it’s just a way to get you out in the streets…so in my opinion he was right to educate his daughter about the harsher world out there

  • Emotional?

    Whenever people attempt to tell young people the reality of the world, there’s always someone saying that we’re setting them up for victim-hood. I can’t disagree more. Life is hard, and it’s harder for certain people which means that those people need to work harder. It’s not like he was saying give up and go live under your bed– but he was saying, you need to be super talented and I think he’s right. I haven’t seen any good come from people who were either shielded by the truth or who are in complete denial because at some point or the other the truth comes blazing right in your face without permission. Those who are aware are better equipped to handle it, versus those who are not…The ones who weren’t prepared are often the ones to breakdown and give up completely.

    • sunshine

      you are right

  • R. Higgins

    He can do no wrong hell! first we all need to stop putting the stars on a pedastal black or white. And tired of hearing its the culture and the way it is. He is right to tell his daughter to work hard and yes, maybe doubly hard for being black. But if it was a back hand slap because she is dark. Then when do we as black folk rise above those notions or ingrained attitudes concerning that. Despite white supremacy and the white mans excepted controlled perceptions of image. The cleaning of house and changing of attitudes has got to begin first with us not anyone else.

  • Park Avenue

    Many African-American parents out have told their children over the years the very same thing that Denzel has told his daughter. Many women black or white have told their daughter you’ll have to work harder than your male counter part to be taken seriously and be respected. That is the world we live in today, there is racism, sexism, ageism and so on.

  • Gladys Johnson

    It will really help her that she is Denzel Washington daughter that is A+

  • Gladys Johnson

    True not only Hollywood, but not only in Hollywood Black women think like MEN, ACT like MEN and are the Gold Diggers too, and that is why BLACK guys don’t even want to wife us black women anymore. If black women be submissive and gentle they would have more roles and be wifed more than light skin sistas!

    • sunshine

      talk about gold diggers? Black women put up with more bs from their black men than any other women.They are the once raising more children as single parents, their men kick and insult them more than any other women. So I think it’s fair if some sisters want a man to treat them like gold. You have white women crying rape every where for money, marry rich guys and divorce tomorrow for money, claiming illnesses while people raise funds for them for money. So don’t give me that story that black women are gold diggers. I think you are a woman who wants to bash on black women. I think that black women should try to treat their men better, but how can a woman give what she doesn’t have. Most blacks are not raised in a home where parents display affection, most times they are raised with single parents, they don’t know how to treat a man. Don’t blame them, it’s the way they were fashioned. You find that white women display affection, kiss everywhere, it’s because they were raised that way. But look at it this way: these women kiss everywhere and make out everywhere, says I love you more than a hundred times in a day, but they divorce and dump their man as quick as lightning. But black women stay married, have patients with men, clean, cook, wash and iron for their men like slaves. This is how black women display their love. But I think black women should get on board with the game, have less children, get more education, to hell with treating black men like they are babies and live the life as the others in society. I think we should be treated like other women…

  • Leroy Jenkins

    if i cood reed i wood sey sumting god abut dis storee

    • sunshine

      but u write pretty good man, I understood every word you wrote

  • Lauren Wilson

    I think it could have been said a better way.viola davis is a hell of an actress that is for sure.we need to embrace our own no matter the complexion.and denzel is not perfect he can do wrong.

  • Cole Lavalais

    There is undoubtedly colorism among the black community, but that is a white issue that has leaked into our community. Colorism is rampant among every colonized race on this planet. Latinos, Asians, East Indians all have issues with skin color; some are even directly connected to class. The lighter; the prettier; the richer; the smarter…. It’s a worldwide lie that’s not tied to any sort of biological truth; it’s a produced and reproduced lie. As a light-skinned black woman with friends of every hue, I have witnessed the ease in which white folks respond to me versus a darker skinned friend. Don’t fool yourself that this is some sort of “black” problem. It’s a world problem that is directly tied to media and the images we are force-fed.

  • sweet ebony

    The reason way Viola would be or is offend is because of narrow minded thinking like this author that assume Denzel meant being dark skinned is ugly or wrong. That is obviously not the case. What he is saying is that Hollywood and most of america is ignorant and lazy thinkers and women of color let alone dark skin women have it hard and you have to be more than just pretty. All he had to say is if they can cast Zoe Saldana to play Nina Simone than you know hollywood is full of it.

    • Palesa Floret

      Even Viola pointed this out on a panel. Of course she was shut down

  • Tisa Muhammad II

    Denzel was being real, and the Truth, no matter how it may hurt, can not be denied…we can’t play ostrich with this one.

  • Evonne

    Denzel was being honest and truthful with his daughter. Historically we African American/Black people have always had to be three times better than the average white person to make it through whatever it is we’re trying to accomplish. Even harder and more upsettling is it also works that way within our own culture. The darker you are the more you’re looked down upon by the lighter complexion AA/Blacks. Somewhere in this country’s evolution darker-skinned people of color have been deemed “unworthy” and have always had to work harder. Times and attitudes are changing but it doesn’t hurt to always be mindful that the odds can still be against a person of a darker complexion. I look forward to the day when color is insignificant and talent is the overall objective. Times are better than they used to be but we still have a long way to go.

    • sunshine

      Dear you are so right.

  • It’s about being a professional. Too many folks, not just black folks, think that acting is a ‘gimme’. A true artist knows their craft, and to aspire to greatness, you must know and train your instrument to the level of its greatest potential. As an independent filmmaker, it is painful and embarrassing to see a person walk into an audition with no idea of what they are doing and with no potential to learn. Some folks should be behind the camera….or in the audience eating popcorn.
    The business is not for everyone…..

  • so tired of people PRETENDING like “Black is Black” and shadism doesn’t exist GTFOH… Yeah… he was right and it’s TRUE… you can’t be a lil cute “actress” who bounces around and HOPEFULLY gets knocked up or wifed.. ala Lauren London or Christina Milian… Your talent MUST be Un DENIABLE… this goes double for singers… THINK about it… how many mediocre dark skin women are working N O N E NONE Not ONE!!! Now… white and lighter skinned or “racially ambiguous” Oh… WOW… where to begin….

  • So…Viola Davis isn’t pretty? His daughter should strive to be Viola Davis? How about her daughter strive to be who she is and tackle acting and dismantling this B.S. white supremacist garbage, Denzel’s problem is he doesn’t think that this white supremacy in Hollywood thing will ever end.I wouldn’t tell my kid that mess.

    • Palesa Floret

      Where did he say that?

    • sunshine

      I think Denzel has been in HW longer that you to know what’s happening in there. yes he is right. It will never end. He didn’t mean Viola isn’t pretty and he didn’t mean she should strive to be Viola. He used her as a role model to his daughter, he meant to say that good looks didn’t get her where she is today. It was her talent and determination that kept her standing in HW today. Any untalented white chick will stay in HW for years but as a black women, she needs twice as much talent, and he is right.

  • What he is telling his daughter is from experience. He knows what it is like to navigate racism in Hollywood. He knows black women in Hollywood. He has seen their struggle first hand. I don’t see a problem in giving her that advice. He also doesn’t want her to succumb to the trap of just being a vapid, celebrity kid riding on her parents coattails. He’s keeping it real. I’m not mad at Denzel. That is his daughter. We have no room/right to criticize what he says to his children.

  • BAP

    hell he’s right but she is beautiful and has his talented genes so she’ll be aiight !

  • Yah

    I’m tired of darker-skinned women allowing ANY man, including their father, to tell them that they will have a harder road than a dark-skinned man or anybody else. Quit the victim mentality! We can make it if we try and don’t base our worth on the color issues of Black men or white men. Funny that there are at least 3 dark-skinned ladies in the White House doing just fine, and i don’t hear them complaining, even with all the hate thrown their way!

  • 1Val

    Denzel needs his a** whipped for saying that foolishness out loud. My heartbreaks for his daughter to have a father teach you that you are less than because you are a dark skin black woman is insane.I shudder to imagine insecurities, low self esteem and self loathing his daughter must have from a father teaching her the dark girl complex. As a father it is Denzel’s obligation to uncnditional love and support daughter. What does his wife say when he is talking about dark skin black women? Perhaps Pauletta has low self-esteem for staying with his rakish behind all these years.

    If we juxtapose President Obama loving lavish praise of his beautiful and talented daughters who are just like their mother to Denzel Washington’s limitations, embarrassment of his daughter’s dark skin it is an ugly comment. The man has privilege, money and status to green light vehicles His daughter could write, produce, act, direct and OWN in Hollywood. Will Smith, Master P., Stan Lathan and other black fathers created vehicles for their offspring to have a start/exposure in entertainment industry. Instead of Washington telling his daughter because of mainstream’s myopic view of black beauty she needs to determine her destiny by creating HER OWN opportunities so she can alter landscape of black beauty he is telling her to jump through additional hoops because she is perceived as less than for not fitting Eurocentric paradigm of beauty. Denzel should have said I have taught my daughter she can be next Tyler Perry and own a movie studio to alter bias against black actresses to level playing field in entertainment industry. Oprah is richest celebrity and looks nothing like what others claim women should look like to be successful in entertainment industry.
    Denzel please more acting and less talking from you would be fantastic!!!

    • Nikki

      So you think he should lie to his daughter? The fact are the facts and he just wanted to make sure she understood what she was going to be up against. Not telling it how it is to your kids sets them up for failure. He didn’t tell her that she was less worthy just that there are people out there who will evaluate her on physical appearance so she had better be on her A game. Nothing wrong with that. Painting an unrealistic portrait of what that Hollywood world really is would do more harm than good. I doubt his daughter developed a complex from his words because he never said anything negative about her. He was telling her other people’s views to prepare her.

      • 1Val

        Washington doesn’t have to lie to his daughter nor does he have to teach her to EXPECT discrimination due to her skin tone. His poor daughter will think she didn’t get the acting job just like her daddy said because of her dark skin. Its self defeating attitude I object to in Washington’s comments.

    • wish i could give two thumbs up!

  • brooklynarcher

    I’m honestly tired of lighter-skinned people saying things like, “it’s racism in general…” and things of that nature. Point blank period, when it comes to Blacks, light-skinned always had representation. I mean my God, just turn on the t.v., flip through a magazine and you will see how you’re constantly a presence in the media. I’m just tired of people trying to make it seem that dark-skin ppl and issues of colorism are “reaching.” I’m afraid it’s not reaching and i’m afraid it’s not just racism in general. I challenge you to do a Tyra Banks move and walk around with some type of dark paint on you and I guarantee, you’ll have a completely different outlook on the world.

  • I think Denzel did the right thing, of course we all would have preferred living in a world where we would not be jugde by our look, hair, the way we speak or our colour, but it is not how the world works today.

    I remember my dad being very strict with us about school marks, saying that to be someone out there I could not just be good, but I had to be the best because I am black, I remember thinking “it’s not fair!” But the world is not fair.

    I thank my parents for giving me the srength and courage to stand up as a dark skin african woman. As parents you sure have to protect, but protecting is not hiding from the truth, but getting the person you love ready to stand for himself.

    And I will do the same for my children, but that does not mean that I think we’re less valuable, beautiful and talented, it’s jus that we have to prove the world wrong.

  • dbatt001

    Well he was being honestly candid with her and he was speaking the truth. Im literally tired of this issue.

  • D

    She will have to work harder, people in corporate what to have the woman if not white but be almost but not quite. The lighter skinned you are the faster you will move up. The want people who look close to them.Which is hard for brown skinned Americans

  • chanela

    he also forgot to tell her that pretty much 99% of black women in hollywood had nose jobs and weigh 12lbs.

  • Darling

    Denzel was right telling his daughter she will have to work harder because she’s dark! It’s true. He is honest and this is a reality in Hollywood. Knowing this, she will excel without a complex. You prepare your kids for life and all its unfair complexities. That is how they not only survive, but excel. It makes them work harder for what they want.It just doesn’t apply to skin color. It applies to ANY OBSTACLES your child may have to endure in life because of other’s intolerance.

  • Candacey Doris

    He’s right. In Hollywood, let alone the rest of the world, being female, black, and dark skinned is not going to put you in a good position. You have to have the full package, or at least be able to fake it. No one is going to give her anything, even though she’s his daughter. Women all over need to hear this message and work on overcoming their problems instead of just accepting it. Acknowledge the problem and make sure it isn’t a problem for you.

  • I don’t think that he was trying to throw shade at Viola Davis, or insult his daughter (and I’m not just taking up for him because he’s Denzel). It’s a fact that Black people have it tough in this society. It’s also a fact that darker-skinned Blacks have a lot more to struggle with, especailly darker-skinned women. That’s reality. It’s wrong, and we shouldn’t accept it, but that doesn’t change that that is the way that people view us. What he is telling his daughter is that she has to be five times as driven to compete with people who have less than half of her talent, but get all the attention. He’s just encouraging her to do her absolute best, and to not give others an excuse to count her out. If he were really setting her up for victimhood, then he would have just told her to be content with settling for less, or to not enter the acting business in the first place.

  • I don’t know if I would tell my kids that just because they are black, their life will be harder, and they have to work twice as hard as a non black. We know the damage that does even if we don’t admit it. It has you growing up living as though your color is a burden. Then, in an effort to remind ourselves that we’re okay too, we say things like “my black is beautiful” or “black girls rock” (knowing if white girls were to say that we would be boycotting from here to D.C.). It’s like we have to constantly let everyone else know we are just as beautiful, just as smart, and work just as hard as anyone else. I was raised to believe if I worked hard enough I could achieve anything I set out to. Not once did my parents make me feel that being black was a burden. We did not focus on such things. We focused on merit. The worst statement a person could make to their child is “even though you are black, you are still as beautiful and as smart as anyone else. That has your child thinking….”even though i’m black?”….what’s wrong with black?”. Then you walk around looking for people to treat you different, because your parents said they would.

    • lol

      easy for you to say, you’re not dark.

      • i am a black woman just like any other black woman. light, dark, or medium. it’s a shame that i have to even say that!

    • 1Val

      We reared our son to have cultural awareness and race pride. It was a delicate balance of naivete and cynicism discussing race. For we want our son to become a successful black man but not a successful failure i.e. Tiger Woods(talented, rich and denies being black) or Tavis Smiley ( talented, rich but confused angry, black). My husband used to laugh at me whenever I lamented having a racially confused son. I used to rant and rave how could our son be so naive about race because we taught him better. My husband felt it was great that our son did not have my racial hangups. To him it indicated race progress had been achieved and I was over reacting to perceived bigotry.
      My son like his father got riled over “big” race offenses. For example, our son was called “n” word during high school football practice went street by assaulting offending teammate. My husband, son and black male principal all but congratulated my son for fighting teammate for calling him racial slur. I was incensed our son displayed a horrible lack of self-control by letting a bigot provoke him to violence, endangered himself and negatively impacted his future. As a mother and a woman I asked our son what would he have done if that bigot’s parents had pressed charges against him for assaulting their son, sued us for injuries and had a blemish on his academic achievements.

      All of our high falutin words of bigots insecurities not being his problem and eyes on the prize escaped my son whose primal reaction to attempted dehumanization was to fight. Needless to say our son was pleased as punch with his actions. My husband attributed it to being a gender “black man” thing I would never understand as a black woman.
      I understand as a black mother to a male child that to deny race/racism to him is parental abuse. It is dangerous in our society to have a black male child think he will NOT be treated differently because he is a black male. We all know Trayvon Martins in black culture.
      As for Washington’s shameful comments to his daughter due to her dark skin he could have tempered his comments with he’d help her get a start by financing vehicles she wrote, produce, own, act and direct because of entertainment’s myopic view of black beauty. Washington’s daughter does not have to beg producers and directors for employment starting out. Washington if he chose to do so could provide a platform for his daughter to display her talent. Just like Will Smith with Willow, Quincy Jones with Sydney and Rashida, Stan Lathan with Sanaa, Master P. with Cymphonique, etc…Therefore, Washington’s daughter’s work not her appearance would speak for itself.

  • clove8canela

    What you would “prefer him to say” has no grounds in reality. Lying to her or the public and creating this false sense of idealism will not prepare his daughter for what she is about to face once she starts auditioning for parts and loses out to someone less talented but lighter because of a Hollywood standard. Pretending these issues don’t exist will not make them go away. Things may change someday, but until then, you have to work within the system in order to be able to change it.

    I’m not sure what your issue is with Denzel, but he obviously speaks from 30+ years of experience, and to speak that truth, that shows there’s no better love and support than that.

  • carol

    I don’t know bout that….I’m no actress…just a worker, but being lighter skinned has got me no further….In fact I have to work harder, be more dedicated just to prove I’m sincere….I think racism is the problem…no longer to many whites doing to us what we do to each other…speaking from what I know, not what I heard….black on black crime proves that…

  • Guest360

    IA with the sentiment but not necessarily what’s being said in this article. In a perfect world, of course Denzel should offer support and love and tell his daughter her talents will lead her to a brighter future. But the world is far from perfect. What he said is very true. If she wants to make a name for herself in the acting world, she needs to work 10x harder than the Beyonce’s, Halle Berry’s, and lighter skinned actresses. You can dress it up anyway you want to but the fact remains light skinned women have a much easier time getting what they want than darker complected women. That’s just the truth. What you as a parent have to do is get your child prepared for that world so that when it comes (and it will come), she won’t be as hurt and discouraged by the rejection based on something she can’t change. I have no problems with what he said and wish parents would encourage their kids but also be real with them as he has.

  • just me

    I agree with denzel….i work at a hospital….in the ER department and its me and another dark skin girl on my shift….I know I have to work 10x harder to where I want to go if I want to achieve my goals. The white doctors and nurses look at me because I’m always smiling (except in serious situations) I told them “why should I frown it brings you down?” Especially the environment we work in

  • ShazzNem

    subjugation?? Do you see us being able in the next 50 years to change the argument of who controls the votes for best actor in hollywood? – 90% white..are you playing here? Look at the movie that got Denzel best actor..a movie about a corrupt cop!! I hated the movie!!! come on now..didn’t he do far better movies before then to have earned it before?

    • BAPS

      If you think about it, that year he won, the Oscars had been under severe scrutiny for the lack of black nominees and winners and “miraculously” Denzel & Halle won and Sidney Poitier was honored all on the same night… not to take away from their win, but I think they both only won because the Oscars was on the “hot seat” about race… Halle did a better performance as Carmen Jones and, of course, Denzel has done better roles for the win… It’s politics.

      • ShazzNem

        We all know that the stink was on the net and you get my point…even while Denzil and Halle deserve to relish on both wins, we only earn what is due if pressure is brought to bear..Denzil has been quintuple threat-ing moons over worse so many other very great black actors before him and Hollywood wouldn’t how is this writer considering that name dropping is easier for his daughter when he wants her to use a Viola Davis as her vision? Look what got Viola Davis her win!! A story about being a maid!! The man wants his daughter to earn her own right not wing it on the fame of his name and I agree. If she earned on his name, god help the backdoor comments she would have to live with.

  • Eggy

    Ultimately, this is a father advising his child on how to navigate through a world that isn’t going to be on her side. Like the comments or not, it’s the truth. There are far more talentless light skinned actresses in Hollywood than there are talentless dark skinned actresses.

    • MIYO K.

      “There are far more talentless light skinned actresses in Hollywood than there are talentless dark skinned actresses.”

      Was this even a necessary thing to add to the discussion?

      People would be up in arms if someone said, “There are far more talented, good looking light skinned athletes than there are dark skinned ones.”

      • Eggy

        Is it the truth or not? You can get away with being dumb if you’re an attractive blonde than if you’re a dumb fat black person. Your opportunities are more. Simple. A talentless light skinned actress has more chance of success than a talentless dark skinned actress. Be up in arms if you want…. I didn’t say it was fair. It’s life.

        • MIYO K.

          I am not ‘up in arms’. And I wouldn’t say it is true or false. It is more so the way you perceive things.

  • Shaunda

    I’ve never read anything Denzel said that stung me. He keeps it 100 and that’s what he was doing with his daughter. We can tell our children that they are talented, that they have what it takes, but then we also have to tell them about the pressures they may face. It’s unfortunate that we still have to do this after Black people have made so many strides in this world; however, there are still issues regarding race and skin tones and it’s either “in your face” or right under the surface. It’s better if we prepare our children ahead of time.

  • I think he is telling he the truth. My dad told me a long time ago that looks and charm may get me in the door, but it would be my work that got me the job and respect.

  • This article was odd and I felt like it sought to create controversy where there was none. I’m giving this site a break, lol.

  • Blackhawk

    Denzel is living in the real world, unlike some of us who live in fantasy world where white people just love black people.

  • Sha

    Not sure of the intent of this article because of the “he is Denzel and can do no wrong comments”. Anyhoo, he was exactly right in telling her just that as well as any other black parent. He was telling her the unabashed truth. Of course it is not the life he wants for his daughter but it is the world in which we live. In an attempt to show we have moved on, we are and have totally ignored the color issues that we as a people have still going on as mentioned when referencing Halle, Beyonce, Rihanna and such. Love them all but they are not all of who we are. Why is it that Halle has never had a black leading man? So yeah his daughter has to be a triple threat so that she can still be around when she is 40. Because when she is 40 and he is either dead or not in the business and she has no talent that got her there, who will care that she was Denzel’s daughter. He was absolutley right and anyone who thinks otherwise is disillussioned to reality. And please believe that was not a jab at Viola and hate you wrote about it in that way – she would agree and probably instructing her children in the same manner. While rose colored glasses are nice but they are not very practical.

    • Well said!

    • The Truth

      Absolutely wonderful. Best comment you will see posted on this article. You can shut it down now. Leave only this comment. Sha should be writing the articles.

    • OKina Alford

      I agree with your whole post……but Halle has has several black leading men..a la Eddie Murphy, Morris Chestnut, Charles S. Dutton, Larenz Tate, Pierre, Wesley Snipes….I could go on..And most of these guys are dark skinned so, I get your point, but the Halle reference is a little inaccurate.

  • kierah

    He’s not setting her up for a lifetime of victimhood. He’s preparing her for victory. He is telling her about the challenges that may come against her. He wants his daughter to win! Coddling people from challenges is a recipe for failure. Whether or not people hold things against her, the one thing they won’t be able to say is that she’s untalented and unprepared.

  • maggie

    I don’t agree with the author’s end statement of victimhood. The only way to transform this reality is to address the issue, plan and develop from it. Telling your child to ‘ignore things just because it doesn’t sound nice’ is neglectful and steeped in fantasy. What Denzel is saying goes beyond his child as an individual–he is talking about a people who still need to fight to be seen as equal.

  • MM82

    I agree with Denzel 100%. Regardless of whether she is light or dark, as a black woman she is always going to have to be one step ahead of the next person. I have worked in a professional atomosphere for several years and unfortunately its true. Whereas my co-workers are somewhere having a smoke break, I am somewhere working because any slip up and I will be pointed out contrary to the other(white/male) people that I work with. This is something I learned a long time ago. I don’t sit around and complain about it, I just do whatever I have to do to strive to be the best that I possibly can be.

  • Shanna

    I have to agree with Denzel. I don’t think he said that as to put down Viola Davis, she is a good actor. He is saying which is true that her being black and dark skinned she does have to work harder. Black actresses have to be a triple threat. It is sad that some of the lighter skinned actress cannot act or have talent, but they get parts quicker that the dark skinned actress who have talent and can act especially in black movies and television. It is hard for actresses in general, especially black actresses to get their foot in the door. Denzel and the other actors that particpated in the discussion is absolutely correct, at the end of day, pretty look will get you but so far, the ones that they pick are the ones that are talented and can act.

  • MIYO K.

    It’s not a matter of right or wrong. He can tell his daughter whatever he wants but no one has to agree with it.

  • Cleo

    He spoke the truth tho, Hollywood stays on bs with black actresses, they keep casting these mixed people as black folk. His daughter is going to have a tough road, but at least now she will be prepared.

  • Wow, Denzel. Ouch. 😀

  • silkynaps

    Life is more difficult if you are Black. Period.

    I think we, as a race, project our insecurities about specific hues onto other races and ethnicities. I know we’d love to simplify the complexities of racism and blame it on one or more of the 32 shades of Black skin, but truth be told, complexion has nothing to do with it.

    Mulatto races (for lack of a better term), olive and brown-skinned people, define themselves as French, Italian, Asian Indian, Puerto Rican, Dominican or whatever. Anything but Black (unless it’s convenient, but that’s a story for another time). As far other races and ethnicities are concerned, Black is Black and they don’t want to be Black. Regardless of complexion. The only ones that seem to have a real problem with the hues of Black skin are Blacks.

    • get real

      I agree with u until your last part. White folk judge on skin color as well, and they did it historically. Remember how lighter skin slaves got to live in the house while the “ugly” dark ones shucked corn and jived? But even in todays world white America is afraid of dark skined males over light skinned ones. They are quic to hire a light skin then a dark one. Hell they even invented racism which is based on race. We all know the lighter u are the better u are off with white folks.

      • silkynaps

        If the whole “light skin is more favorable to white folks” thing was true, there wouldn’t be a one drop rule. “One drop” means, white folk don’t care how light or dark you are. Black is Black.

        During slavery, if we looked white, we were merely more aesthetically tolerable to the good christian white folk that wanted to rape us or have us putting our Black germs on things in their home. Post slavery, if a mulatto was caught passing, he was lynched.

        For Blacks in the Americas miscegenation is a fact. They wanted to lighten our race, but, in the end, they darkened theirs. Another fact? There are still more dark-skinned Blacks in this country, on this continent, and in the world.

        I won’t say there is no favoritism shown towards Blacks solely because of a fair complexion, but I definitely do not believe that is the rule. I do, however, believe that favoritism based on complexion is more likely to happen within our race as opposed to from outside.

        Popular rappers are Black, but sista can’t even be a video chick these days. Whereas the tacky white dude that penned a song about liking Black girls chose the blackest Black chick he could find to be in the video.

        No sir. This problem is within the community.

        • MIYO K.

          I agree with you. I am actually sick of people making it seem as if some us light complexioned folk are living it up among White folks.

          • Guest

            Miyo K and Silkynaps, you make excellent points and I agree with you. I’m so tired of the myth that lighter skinned black people are somewhere living it up like the life of riley!!! For those who still believe that bullsh**, check out the population in the projects, prisons, welfare office, unemployment line, food pantry line or any other places in our society where lack is evident and tell me that there are no light skinned blacks among them because they’re so busy living well because of the favoritism shown them. The truth is black is black to the white population and they don’t really care what shade your complexion is, they will send you a message, you are not one of them. The dark skinned vs light skinned black issues today in 2012 are more internal than external and that is the truth.

        • The Truth

          You f’ed up at the end. First, black women are proof that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Attention from a white man (no matter how crass or insulting) is like diamonds to a black woman. I know a group of black women (of various hues) that went to Spain for a trip. They came back and were flattered by the attention they received from white Spaniards. Mind you, this attention consisted of licking their lips while undressing these sisters with their eyes or actually pinching the rear ends of these sisters. Black women (and men) were originally taught by whites to loath ourselves, but in 2013, we perpetuate our own self-loathing. Straightening our hair, dying our hair blond; let us not mention the weaves and extensions. White people must laugh at black women trying to emulate something they’ll never be naturally. I love to see sisters start running for shelter when an unexpected down pour of rain occurs, while white women continue to stroll, letting the falling rain cool them off from the noon-day Summer heat.

          • Palesa Floret

            Wow! Sounds like any group of women admired by men

      • Palesa Floret

        Not from the pics I’ve seen of black folks in the big house. A majority were dark skinned.

    • RJA

      ” Life is more difficult if you are Black. Period.” words right out of my mouth

    • Emotional?

      I completely disagree with you. I work in casting, and I’ve been there when the producers are requesting a certain type of black person. Trust me…. it’s not just in the minds of black people. Any job in the entertainment industry would expose you to this harsh truth, and the thing is… people are pretty blunt about it. No one is trying to cut around the bush with it because they don’t have the time.

  • Nikkita Michelle

    I don’t think Viola would be thrown by his comments. Who would know the reaction of Hollywood to black actresses better than a black actress?

    • kierah

      Viola has gone on record as stating that she will be involved in the production of stories of Black women with skin darker than a paper bag. Viola knows what the deal is.

    • I agree. I don’t think Denzel’s statement was backhanded at all. I think it was realistic.

      • BAPS

        Honestly, even though he referenced racism and sexism to his daughter by reminding her that she’s black, a woman, and dark-skinned, I don’t think he was trying to put as much emphasis with issues with her being dark-skinned in the industry as much as many readers are. I think he was putting more emphasis on the fact that beauty and being pretty can only get you so far, so she needs to focus on skill.

        His daughter is young and grew up in an era of music videos/106 & Park where being superficial & materialism is the norm with music lyrics like “my chic is bad” and “I’m the baddest b***h” etc, where video vixens, strippers and big butts are often praised, in an era of “America’s Next Top Model” and reality TV where Glam, Glitz and labels are idolized… unfortunately, many (not all) young girls think that their beauty & booty will get them far and some may think they have to look and act a certain way to be successful and that’s not true and I think that’s one of the main points he was trying to get at.

        I saw an episode of “Girlfriend Confidential” with model Eva Pigford where she auditioned numerous times for the Wayans Bros.for a role as a tranny and she didn’t get the part; they felt that because she was a well known, beautiful model, in addition to her shown skills, she wouldn’t be “believable”. On another episode, Eva’s model-turned-actress friend went to a talent agency, searching for representation, and was turned down; the agent was very blunt and told her that she was obviously pretty and the typical model type but “what else?”…even though she had some acting experience it wasn’t enough; she was told to get more experience under her belt and more training and then come back…Eva’s friend felt insulted, she believed that since she had worked on a few Tyler Perry projects and few other shows, she had enough skills, but obviously not to the agency…black actors should be skilled and versatile to prevent from being limited & typed casted… Denzel spoke the truth to his daughter.

        • BAPS

          In my opinion, I think Vivica A Fox had a lot going for herself and had a promising career but it seems like when she started focusing on her looks with plastic surgery, breast implants, lip injections and dressing way too young, her career started to fall off… it seems like the more she focused on her looks, the less she worked. I’m not saying that’s the actual cause of her decline in the industry, but like Denzel said “If you’re relying on that, when you hit 40, you’re out the door. You better have some chops.”
          People don’t realize that when some black actors can’t get work on film/TV, they turn to the stage/theater to work, but if they’re type casted and/or don’t have the skill, then they’re probably SOL and try to take whatever they can get.

          • I think you’ve provided a pretty thorough summary of where black entertainment has gone, and its very true. I never gave much thought as to what caused the decline of Vivica A. Fox’s career, and what you said makes sense. It looks like getting older frightens her. But there are a number of black women that have aged with grace and are still getting roles.

            And I know what episode of Girlfriend Confidential you are talking about…baby girl couldn’t act. She was gorgeous, but her acting was flat. And I feel this way about Meghan Goode. She has definitely been type casted and is often times chosen just to play the pretty girl. Sense Eve’s Bayou she hasn’t had any compelling roles.

          • Palesa Floret

            More than likely that’s probably why she focused on her looks to get the jobs as it’s had for black women in the movie/TV industry.