“Dark Girls,” which aired on Sunday on OWN, unearthed memories of colorism for a number of dark-skinned women who watched the documentary, including actress Tika Sumpter. Moved by the testimonies of women and children in “Dark Girls,” Sumpter penned an article for The Daily Beast about her personal experience as a dark-skinned actress in Hollywood.
Here are a few excerpts:
On being loved by her father because of her skin:
“My mother says that when my father, a striking man with kind eyes, broad shoulders, and deep ebony-brown skin, first saw me in the hospital […], his eyes lit up brightly as he promptly proclaimed, “She has my color. She looks like me!” Though I obviously have no recollection of that day at all, I’m quite certain that hearing that story heavily influenced the ways in which I’ve been able to navigate my journey as a woman, an African-American woman, and a woman of a darker hue.”
On the impact of her character on “Gossip Girl”:
“I was recently reminded of my childhood as I watched the amazing documentary Dark Girls. My heart broke just listening to the stories of so many young girls with brown skin traumatized by the cruel and hurtful views of those around them. I experienced that same emotion when I began my role as Raina Thorpe on the popular CW show Gossip Girl a few years back. I was truly unprepared for the tremendous impact I’d have while on that show. Each week I’d get the tons of letters from mothers, grandmothers, and young girls literally thanking me for simply existing. They wrote me saying they’d never seen a woman that looked like me on television before. Which really meant they’d never seen anyone that looked like them before. And it got much deeper than that. Some fans even remarked that they’d never witnessed any woman with my skin color speak the way I spoke, have a successful career the way I had on that show, or carry themselves in such a ladylike manner.”
On hurtful comments she experienced:
“Of course I did experienced my share of hurtful reactions to my skin color, but thankfully only after I was an adult. Who hasn’t heard the obligatory, “You’re pretty for a dark-skin girl”? Or my personal favorite, “I usually don’t date dark-skin women, but you’re so beautiful.” That one really warms the heart. But in reality, the most disturbing aspect of all of this is that those comments were most often made by men with exactly the same skin tone as my own.”
Read more here.
What do you think about Tika Sumpter’s article, Clutchettes?