YourBlackWorld.net, By Ryan Steal, Posted February 16th 2022
Actress Thandiwe Newton is speaking up about the discrimination, privilege, and guilt she has faced as a fair-skinned Black actress navigating Hollywood and the UK film industry.
She made the poignant remarks during a recent interview with The Associated Press about her role in God’s Country, which debuted at Sundance late last month. Newton was an unusual choice for the character of Sandra, a college professor who suffers a sad loss and becomes embroiled in a slowly rising confrontation with two hunters who trespass on her land, as a Black woman in her 40s. The film is based on James Lee Burke’s short story Winter Light, which has an older, weathered white man as the protagonist.
Newton emphasized the impact of bias in the film and the prejudice she has personally encountered as a light-skinned Black woman in Hollywood while speaking with The Associated Press about taking on this role.
“I now realize that my internalized prejudice was stopping me from feeling like I could play this role when it’s precisely that prejudice that I’ve received. It doesn’t matter that it’s from African American women more than anyone else,” she stated. “I received prejudice. Anyone who’s received oppression and prejudice feels this character.”
Newton realizes the repressive impacts of colorism that her selection for roles perpetuates for women who are darker-skinned than she is, despite being on the receiving end of oppression.
“I’ve wanted so desperately to apologize every day to darker-skinned actresses. To say, ‘I’m sorry that I’m the one chosen.’ My Mama looks like you,” she added, tears welling up in her eyes.
She went on to say that It’s been excruciating to feel like she’s not representing ladies who look like her mother. “That I’m taking from them. Taking their men, taking their work, taking their truth,” she said.
Newton also revealed to Variety that the character of Sandra was named after Sandra Bland, which pushed her even closer to the role.
“For a good five (years) I’ve been supporting Kimberly Crenshaw’s work with the African American Policy Forum and movement ‘Say Her Name,’ which she coined,” Newton recalled. “And in this movie, right from the get-go, we are saying her name. I don’t mean just about Sandra Bland. I’m talking about all the ‘Sandra Blands.’ Now and in the past.”
Newton claims that this is her final movie as an actress.