It’s a commonly held belief that getting Black people in the room, at the table will mitigate and alleviate issues of racism and discrimination. But that’s not always the case. Sadly, there are plenty of instances where Black folks have gotten access and are so happy to be there, they’ve upheld the very same practices that continue to harm their brothers and sisters on the outside.
For as much as HBO’s “Lovecraft Country,” has been lauded as a show which tells the truth about racism and is progressive and groundbreaking in its content, even they are being called out for discrimination against actors and actresses with darker skin tones. Not in the principle cast—but with an extra who was cast to play a younger version of one of the show’s darker skinned characters in a photograph.
23-year-old Kelli Amirah who was originally from Atlanta but moved to New York to work, shared the whole story via Tik Tok.
See how it went down below.
Amirah said, “I’ve honestly been debating telling this story for the longest. Y’all cannot cancel me for it.”
She said she submitted her photos to portray the younger version of an actor in a wedding photo. Days later, she received a call saying she had gotten the role.
“I go in early for a fitting. It’s a period piece so it’s like a 1930s wedding dress. Really awesome.”
Amirah shared that this was the first time she had been treated so well as an extra. She had her own hair and makeup, was given her own trailer and ate craft services with principle cast members. In fact, when she was getting her makeup done, she sat in between two stars of the show.
But Amirah said that that’s when things took a turn for the worst.
“Okay, so I’m on set for this tv show. I’m in hair and makeup…And so the makeup artists are talking to themselves around me as they prepare what they’re going to do. And I hear one of them mention how like, ‘She’s a little lighter than the actress.’ And the other makeup artist is like, ‘Yeah, you’re right. But like facial feature wise right here…she’s a dead match.”
And they start doing her makeup.
Amirah said she was on her phone, half watching them, half occupied with something else. “And I notice my foundation is getting darker and darker. Now y’all, I’m not sh*t yet. I have no clout, no pull, no nothing…ANd my makeup just keeps getting darker and darker.”
Amirah showed pictures of the final product. But before she did so, she said, “I had no idea they were gona do this to me and if I knew beforehand…I would not have accepted the job.”
Then she showed images of herself several shades darker than her natural complexion.
She likened the experience to Zoe Saldana taking on the role of Nina Simone in 2016.
Amber J. Phillips, a writer and cultural critic, packaged Amirah’s story with her own commentary about the fact that the practice of disenfranchising darker-skinned Black actors was still alive and well on a show that is supposed to be about “Black radical futures.”
She shared that while she doesn’t blame the extra, it was a shame that the two of the more seasoned actors she sat next two in makeup didn’t speak up about what they witnessed.
Phillips said, “This is also why we can’t leave our political education up to celebrities, who have been benefiting from colorism this whole f*cking time.”
She’s right. “Lovecraft Country” was developed and largely written by Misha Green, a Black woman, it has producers of color, including Jordan Peele.
The show employs Black directors and obviously, a predominately Black cast. Still, the darkening of a light skinned woman was allowed to take place on set.
I don’t know which people make decisions in terms of casting extras and who knows in the make rooms. Still, with all those Black folk around, it’s a shame sometime didn’t cry foul over the fact that once again, an opportunity in Hollywood was taken away from another dark skinned Black person for something as small as someone posing for a throwback picture.
You can watch Phillips’ full commentary in the video below.