Confusing Times Black Celebrities Were Mistaken For One Another
Raise your hand if you’re tired of mainstream media outlets confusing Black celebrities for other Black celebrities. We figured you would be, ‘cause we are, too.
There’s no reason why time and again, mix-ups like this should happen. Whether it occurs on the red carpet or in a news studio during the middle of an interview, this blatant disregard and inability to differentiate one human being who happens to be brown from another human being who happens to be brown is far beyond embarrassing; it’s offensive and speaks to a much bigger issue at hand. It also needs to stop, and as one mistaken celebrity recently posted on Instagram, folks have to “do better.” Here are but a few celebrities who know this problem all too well.
LONG READ. I had the best time at the EW party Friday night, getting hyped for the Emmy’s, our upcoming Grey’s season premiere this Thursday, and celebrating artists who have created visionary, groundbreaking television for us to enjoy this fall. Saturday morning, I searched the internet for my carpet photos so I could post them here and give credit to my glam team who straight KILLT it, but I could find none. Finally, with a sinking feeling, I searched for the name of my castmate, Jerrika Hinton, who did not even attend the event. Lo and behold, there I was!! How did I know I would find them there? Well, because this isn’t the first time this has happened. Now Jerrika is a beautiful lady, inside and out, with talent for days. I would be flattered to be mistaken for her, if it didn’t seem like the all-too-frequent occurrence of this “mistake” indicated the careless conflation of two black actresses with curly hair on the same tv show. I wonder, does this happen when there are two blonde women in the same cast? When there are two dark-haired white dudes with blue eyes? Maybe it does. But I’ll tell you what— to constantly wonder whether I’m facing a micro-aggression I should call someone out on, or a harmless mistake I should let slide, is a real energy drain. The noise of the internal debate with myself is, as Maggie Pierce said last season, “like a low buzz.” Such is life for people in marginalized groups— including those of us with many privileges— noisy and draining. This morning, I discovered that Getty Images and some other outlets have corrected the error, and I am appreciative. So I’ll just take this as an opportunity to do a quick PSA—Check your unconscious biases today. We all have them. Managing them takes discipline, vigilance, and self-awareness, and you can practice it anytime. Why not do it today? And in the words of my castmate, I simply ask the folks who are in the business of identifying distinct and unique human beings to Do Better. That is all. Thanks.
Kelly McCreary and Jerrika Hinton
After attending the 2016 primetime Emmy Awards, Grey’s Anatomy star Kelly McCreary searched for images of herself online so she could shout out her glam squad. Not able to find anything, she typed in her costar, Jerrika Hinton’s name and, voila. There McCreary was. She was mistaken for her co-star who, get this, wasn’t even in attendance at the Emmys.
Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard
Also at the Emmys, the Television Academy (via Twitter) mistook Empire star Terrence Howard for The People vs. O.J. Simpson star Cuba Gooding Jr. After the post received several likes and retweets, the Academy corrected the mistake.
Samuel L. Jackson and Laurence Fishburne
KTLA, a Los Angeles news station, had Samuel L. Jackson on live via satellite to talk about his role in the film, RoboCop. During the interview, reporter Sam Rubin asked Jackson about the reaction he received regarding his recent Super Bowl commercial. “What Super Bowl commercial?” Jackson responded. He quickly realized that Rubin had confused him with Laurence Fishburne, the actor in said commercial. Jackson went all the way off on Rubin.
Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah
How someone can mistake Whoopi for Oprah is beyond our comprehension, and yet it happened at the Academy Awards earlier this year.
Michael Clarke Duncan and Seal
Again, in what world would someone confuse late actor Michael Clarke Duncan with singer Seal? How, Sway? Well, just ask WGRZ news out of Buffalo, New York. They made the mistake.
Michael Clarke Duncan and Terry Crews
Just like Seal, actor Terry Crews was mistaken for Michael Clarke Duncan by ABC 7 news in Los Angeles. A fail of epic proportions.
NeNe Leakes and Mary J. Blige
Say what now? Yeah. That’s how we felt when TMZ – TMZ! – confused NeNe Leakes for Mary J. Blige. The cameraman correctly addressed Leakes at first, but she gave him a look that apparently knocked the sense out of him. Then he called her by Blige’s name. M’kay.
Bill Russell and Morgan Freeman
During an ABC telecast in 2013, news commentator George Stephanopoulos identified 11-time NBA champ Bill Russell as Morgan Freeman. Russell was even wearing a Boston Celtics cap when Stephanopoulos made the error.
Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis
Black celebrities being mistaken for other Black celebrities is a seriously disturbing trend on red carpets and at awards shows. Just ask Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis. Spencer was mistakenly identified as Davis by E! News at the Academy Awards in 2013.
Octavia Spencer and Sherri Shepherd
Octavia Spencer and Sherri Shepherd are not the same person. Both have been approached by fellow actors who mistook them for one another. On The View, Shepherd told audiences that she was asked by several people while covering the red carpet at the Academy Awards if she thought she’d win…for The Help, which starred Spencer.