Whitewashing In Hollywood: Films That Cast Non-Blacks In Black Roles

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“Imitation Of Life”

“Imitation of Life” was a 1933 novel that dealt with the issues of race, class and gender and it was eventually adapted for film. In the book, Sarah Jane was a very fair-skinned Black woman who was able to pass for white as a young adult. But when it came time to cast for the 1959 film, Susan Kohner, born to a Mexican mother and Austrian father, landed the role of Sarah Jane. The role helped Kohner earn an Oscar nomination as well as two Golden Globes.

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