Fans of the rising actress Alexandra Shipp have taken to social media to educate her on the nuanced nature of race, racism and colorism in the world following remarks she made about the issues.
Full story below…
Shipp faced fire when she poorly cast as Aaliyah in the widely panned ‘Lifetime’ movie about the late singer’s tragic life.
At the heart of said fire? Hollywood’s habit of casting racially ambiguous black women to fill roles undeniably black actresses are blocked from filling.
Unfortunately, the heat she faced grew a fresh pair of legs when she was then cast to play the Kenyan superhero Storm as part of a lucrative deal with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
How Shipp responded to the debate surrounding the preferential treatment many believe she receives in Hollywood?
Nope. Disney is re-casting the whole team, boo. Sorry. Dark Phoenix will be your last. We getting a dark skinned non-racially Ambiguous Storm like we deserve. pic.twitter.com/sOFlVhx7ZG
— Sara (@Saaaa_hot) December 14, 2017
This. Right. Here. Pure hate. Its disgusting. My whole life I’ve had to defend my skin tone, like its controllable, like I’ve ever been treated white. Sorry, your racism doesn’t work on me. I’m a strong black woman & no one will EVER be able to take that from me not even a troll. https://t.co/Nl8HqoiDuf
— Alexandra Shipp (@AlexShipppp) December 14, 2017
What I experienced on Twitter which I personally, had no idea the grandiose of speaking on it, I was speaking on a personal experience and I feel like I was this metaphorical straw that broke this interracial camel’s back,” she said. “I wasn’t trying to offend anyone, but at the same time if my work offends you, let’s take a step back and ask why my personal experience is offensive to you? When we’re talking about the reality of the situation, I’m not wearing black face, I’m not putting on a prosthetic nose or lips, I’m not trying to kink my hair up so that I can have a fro, I have a fro. I wake up with it every morning and I go to bed with it every night. But if someone said, ‘Alex, we want you to play this historical figure but we’re going to have to darken you up’, I would respectfully decline. I would be like there are so many incredible actresses that don’t have to alter their appearances that would do this job justice, but as a woman of color, you can’t tell me that I can’t play a woman of color because I don’t match the Crayola marker from 1975 when they drew the comic, that makes no sense.
When asked to consider the fact Hollywood’s systemic erasure of darker-skinned women she shared…
You look at people like Lena Dunham and Issa Rae, they have been given a platform to uplift people of every race, sexuality and denomination and that’s what I strive for, that’s the only route towards real inclusion that I’ve seen. The way I see that I can affect social change within my industry is by working really hard and taking on roles that make people uncomfortable, that’s the whole point of theatre. It’s getting those roles and saying, I’m not playing a black woman, I’m playing a woman, that’s how you move the conversation and change the way people look at women of color in film. The way to true understanding is to start a conversation, that’s why I love film is because within that hour to four hours you can start a real conversation that changes the narrative and doing so means I’ve done my job as a performer.
Her thoughts and feelings inspired the responses below…
Alexandra Shipp straight up said she has no problem erasing black women. I can’t watch for Disney to get the X-men rights and fire her ass.
— Hey Auntie (@Kerritweetz) March 15, 2018
“You can’t tell me that I can’t play a woman of color because I don’t match the Crayola marker from 1975 when they drew the comic, that makes no sense.” – 😷 Alexandra Shipp 2018, ladies and gents.
— renee (@okoyehive) March 15, 2018
So what this bird is saying is in order to make social change you have to continue to accept roles meant for dark skin women and contribute to their erasure… Alexandra Shipp has to be one of the dumbest ppl alive. How does that help anything?? pic.twitter.com/KRl9I37dML
— kimberlé HATES yosané (@rihspectme) March 15, 2018
Can we all come into an agreement that Alexandra Shipp can no longer play Storm?
— it’s rihanna nigga (@ewwwugly) March 16, 2018
before we even bring Black Panther and Storm together, we need to find an accurate depiction of the Kenyan-descent superhero. 🙄no Alexandra Shipp/ Halle Berry nonsense pls and thank you #BlackPanther @Marvel 👀: *cough* Dewanda Wise (tip)
— 🌹 𝕄𝕨𝕒𝕟𝕤𝕒. (@mwsamusaba) February 20, 2018
This conversation may go over the heads of those who struggle, or refuse to, understand why the creation, casting and presentation of darker-skinned characters in fiction is so important.
Why? Not because darker-skinned actors are entitled to roles, but because their presence in mainstream art goes a long way to pull the sting out of the anti-black poison that has shaped the way people sees and treat black people.