Coming here from the islands, I didn’t even know that I was dark-skinned, there wasn’t a color issue in my head — Desreta Jackson
Desreta Jackson, best known for playing Young Celie Johnson in the 1985 Oscar Nominated Drama The Color Purple (opposite Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey) blames colorism for her leaving Hollywood shortly after her acting debut. Jackson opened up about her career-defining role in a recent interview with The Grio.
“At the time I didn’t even know who Steven Spielberg was, I had never heard of Oprah or seen her show. Whoopi Goldberg was on the rise, but I didn’t know who anybody was,” Jackson recalls. “They were just good people who were co-workers,” she said.
Jackson attempted to find work after The Color Purple but encountered colorism because of her dark skin.
“To be very honest I had to leave Hollywood because as a young child it didn’t seem to flourish [in] my mind very well. Coming here from the islands, I didn’t even know that I was dark-skinned, there wasn’t a color issue in my head,” Jackson says. “I always thought I was beautiful. It wasn’t until I got in Hollywood that I started understanding there were dark-skinned blacks and light-skinned blacks and there were roles for this character and roles for that character based on a color. I left Hollywood and in the process of leaving it, it helped develop myself into a woman,” she told The Grio.
Jackson is CEO of her own haircare line, Black Silk and is gearing up to release her first book in February 2016, “The Black Hair Conspiracy: A Guide To Grow And Care For Natural Hair.” Additionally, she’s teamed up with Dark Girls Director Bill Duke to executive produce and star in a film about the life of Nat Turner alongside Mike Epps, Kim Whitley and Todd Bridges so it’s safe to say she’s doing pretty well for herself these days.
What are your thoughts on colorism’s impact on the discouragement of budding dark-skinned actors and actresses?