In a recent interview with the Grio’s Chris Witherspoon to promote the film adaptation of the play, Trip to Bountiful, Vanessa Williams shared her thoughts on what it’s like being a Black actress in Hollywood.
On the heels of Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscar win, Witherspoon asked Williams if she found getting roles easier because of her lighter skin.
While Williams heaped praise on Nyong’o (but mixed up the fact that she’s Kenyan, not Nigerian), she told Witherspoon that being a Black actress in Hollywood is difficult no matter what shade skin you possess.
“Getting a good role is hard no matter what you look like, and Lupita did a phenomenal job,” Williams said. “She went to Yale School of Drama and this was the first thing she did out of her tutelage there and she’s a brilliant actress… she’s amazing because she embodied that role and made you feel.”
“It’s hard to get good roles anyway, no matter how fair your skin is…no matter how brown your skin is. It’s up to you to make the best out of each opportunity that you’re given.”
Williams has a point, being a Black woman in Hollywood is difficult. But it’s hard to dismiss the privilege lighter-skin women—yes, even Black women—enjoy over their darker hued peers, particularly when they’re vying for the same small segment of roles.