‘It’s Hard To Get Roles No Matter How Fair Your Skin Is:’ Vanessa Williams On Colorism In Hollywood

March 7, 2014  |  

Many dark-skinned actresses have come forward before in the past to speak on injustices that they’ve suffered in Hollywood due to their darker skin tones. But if you ask “Trip to Bountiful” actress Vanessa Williams if she thinks having fair skin makes securing quality gigs a walk in the park, she’ll tell you that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Getting a good role is hard no matter what you look like,” the 50-year-old beauty told TheGrio before going on to praise Oscar Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o.

“Lupita did a phenomenal job. She brought her sensibility, growing up and having a dream. She went to Yale School of Drama. [12 Years a Slave] was the first thing she did out of her tutelage and she’s a brilliant actress… she’s amazing because she embodied that role and made you feel.”

Williams then went on to reiterate her point that good roles are hard to come by regardless of your complexion.

“It’s hard to get good roles anyway, no matter how fair your skin is…no matter how brown your skin is. It’s up to you to make the best out of each opportunity that you’re given.”

Whether or not light-skinned actresses have an easier time securing roles is debatable, but as Viola Davis told Oprah last summer, the shortage of quality roles for Black women is Hollywood is the bigger issue.

“We’re in crisis mode as Black actresses, not only in the sheer number of roles that are out there, but the quality of the roles. And there in lies the problem,” Viola explained. “We’re in deprivation mode because listen, me, Alfre [Woodard] and Phylicia [Rashad] and you [Oprah], are in the same category. Where as if you take a Caucasian actress, you have the ones who are in their teens, in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and there are roles for each of them. But when you only have two or three categories for Black actresses, there’s the problem because you want to work.”

Watch Vanessa’s interview on the next page. What do you think of Vanessa’s stance on colorism in Hollywood? 

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