Growing up, I was always the “browner” one of my two light skinned sisters. Even till this day, when people see photos of us as kids, I’m asked, “Do you have the same father?”. There were definitely times when I felt as though they were given preferential treatment from certain family members because they were lighter. I can’t help but to remember my aunt, who is extremely light herself, excluding me from outings she willingly took my sister’s on. Although I was only a kid, probably 10 or 11 at the time, I still felt my abundance of melanin was one of the reasons why I was treated differently.
In a recent ‘The Actors’ round-table on The Hollywood Reporter Denzel Washington shared the some advice he gave his daughter, a student at New York University:
“You are black and you’re a woman — and you’re dark-skinned at that — so you have to be a quadruple-triple threat and you know, a lot of actors are not actual actors, they are movie people or whatever it is. I said, you have to learn how to act, dance, sing, move on stage, that is the only place you learn how to act, in my humble opinion. Look at Viola Davis. That’s who you want Viola Davis. That’s who you want to be. Forget about the little pretty girls; if you’re relying on that, when girls; if you’re relying on that, when you hit 40, you’re out the door. You you hit 40, you’re out the door. You better have some chops.”
Denzel Washington’s views on colorism in Hollywood and society in a general, isn’t anything we haven’t heard before. There have been plenty of posts on Clutch about the subject, whether they’re about Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone, or the whole light skin vs dark skin conversation. Although some people may view these subjects as the proverbial “dead horse getting beaten”. There’s no denying that colorism exists.
We see it in various forms of media. Whether it’s television, the big screen or print, it sometimes can be blatant or subtle. No one is excluded from it, no matter how much melanin you lack or contain. Although people make mention of a “post-racial” society, it would be nice if we had a “post-colorism” society as well, because they’re definitely not the same.
What do you think of Denzel’s advice to his daughter?