Colorism in Movies and Television

COLORISM: Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

When Black actors are cast:
Lighter skinned actors generally get leading and more desirable roles such as love interest, successful professional, entertainer, etc.
Darker skinned actors are typically cast in roles that perpetuate racial stereotypes and tropes such as best friend, assistant/help, troubled youth/gang member, etc.
Producers cast lighter skinned actors and expect credit for their contribution to diversity

Zoe Saldana was cast as Nina Simone but needed a prosthetic nose and to have her skin darkened to look the part.


When The Hate U Give was adapted, the Black lead character as depicted in the book and on the book cover were replaced by a lighter skinned actor, disappointing fans of the original who were looking forward to seeing themselves on screen.

“True representation will occur when a Black girl, of any shade or hair texture, can go to the movies and watch actors that look just like her.” [attribution]

As consumers, we control what we watch and support with our time and money.
– Commit to watching a certain number of titles each month created by and featuring people who don’t look like you
– Critically consume any title you watch. Is there true representation of people of color?
– Amplify projects created by women of color. Share them on social media, tell your friends about them, and get the word out.