Black Actresses have faced an uphill battle for years, to reach the success and recognition they deserve in Hollywood. The latest example involves Raven Symone and her hit Disney show, “That’s So Raven.” Another recent example came when Angela Bassett was snubbed by the Academy Awards for a second time. An event that sent Black twitter into a frenzy.
From unequal pay, lack of screen time, and being portrayed as the, “sassy best friend,” Black women in Hollywood face discrimination despite their talents. Shows like “Insecure,” “Grownish,” and “Girlfriends,” fostered inclusivity by making Black women lead characters but some still faced racial inequality. Here’s a look at actresses who have spoken out out against Hollywood’s racial biases in television.
Visibility Not Common At Disney Channel?
Black Millennials and Gen-Z knew Raven Symone as the queen of Disney Channel. “That’s So Raven” became a staple Black sitcom. Her character represented the fantasy and sci-fi genre which wasn’t traditionally prevalent in Black television. Symone’s co-star, Anneliese van der Pol spoke on Christy Carlson Romano’s, “Vulnerable Podcast,” and revealed Symone was not initially cast as the main character. “That’s So Raven” was originally titled “Absolutely Psychic” and Symone was set to play the sidekick. Even though producers found a lead character, Symone blossomed on set and the rest was history.
Despite Symone’s success, van der Pol thought it was “low-level racism” for not envisioning a Black girl as the lead on the show. Had Symone not shown her comical personality that won her the main role, the beloved television series would be nonexistent. Little Black girls in the early 2000’s would have been deprived of the representation the series presented. Raven Symone has yet to comment.
Black Women Deserve Equal Pay
The “Archie” comic adaptation, “Riverdale,” became a cult favorite for its eerie, investigative genre. The CW series regular, Vanessa Morgan, has highlighted being the show’s only Black character. During the George Floyd protests, Morgan turned to social media and criticized Hollywood’s perception of Black talent.
“Tired of how black people are portrayed in Media, tired of us being portrayed as thugs, dangerous or angry scary people,” Morgan wrote on Twitter. “Tired of us also being used as sidekick non dimensional characters to our white leads.”
Morgan also revealed she was the lowest paid member of the show’s cast. Her cast-mates supported her in her frustrations and the show’s creator apologized to Morgan. The creator promised to do better; however, Morgan has not made a statement to confirm if her pay has increased.
Racist Stereotypes On Set
Boy Meets World’s was a nostalgic coming-of-age sitcom. Trina McGee was one of the few Black characters on the show. She portrayed Angela Moore. 90s fans loved her feisty but emphatic character. She was involved in an interracial relationship with Shawn Hunter played by Rider Strong. But McGee went public stating one of her cast members called her “Aunt Jemima” on the show. The racist and microaggressive alleged actions caused Moore and her former colleagues to speak about the incidents.
McGee was written out of the series finale. On the “Pod Meets World” podcast, McGee said her cast-mates were behind her exit. The cast-mates denied the claim but it was later revealed Will Friedle referred to McGee as a historically racist caricature. He later apologized.
“‘You’re part of the cast, so that means, I’m gonna make fun of you the same way I make fun [of others].’ I thought, ‘Gonna make fun of her red hat.’ That’s as far as my dumbass, privileged mind saw,'” he said.
Even though McGee accepted the apology she carried decades of pain from racism she faced in showbiz.