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In his latest interview with ESSENCE, comedian Chris Rock keeps it all the way real about diversity in Hollywood and how difficult Black actresses actually have it. While actresses like Kerry Washington, Gabrielle Union, Taraji P. Henson, and Viola Davis have been en vogue lately, Rock says they’re still extremely underpaid.

“Black women get paid less than everybody in Hollywood,” he told ESSENCE. “Everybody’s talking about Jennifer Lawrence. Talk to Gabrielle Union. If you want to hear stories, talk to Nia Long. Talk to Kerry Washington. They would love to get to Jennifer Lawrence’s place, or just be treated with the same amount of respect.”

Rock, who proudly admits he’s never “gone in to a [movie] battle without a Black woman,” says that despite his desire to write and produce roles for women of color, studio executives always try to whitewash his vision.

“I’ve never done a movie, any movie, the silliest movie, where someone, some studio person hasn’t gone, ‘Does the girl have to be Black?’ It happens every time.”

6387_rock_a61303One of the biggest obstacles Rock faced was convincing network executives to trust his choice to cast Tichina Arnold for Everybody Hates Chris. While Arnold absolutely stole the show, Rock says some people weren’t convinced.

“With Tichina Arnold in Everybody Hates Chris, I had to fight for Tichina. I’m not even going to tell you who the network wanted,” he said. “She’s literally as good as Tina Fey or Julia Louis-Dreyfus or any of these chicks. They’re like, ‘Tichina who’?’”

Still, Rock isn’t letting close-minded folks stop him. As the father of two little Black girls, he plans to keep picking women in color for his projects because it matters to him.

“I think everything I’ve ever done has had a significant role for a Black or brown woman,” he explained.  “I refuse not to.”

We can’t wait to see what Rock has to say about Hollywood’s diversity problem when he hosts this year’s Academy Awards ceremony on February 28.

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  • vintage3000

    I have a newfound respect for Chris (although i still think Good Hair was more about making fun of black women). Also new black celebs should take note–a Black celebrity has spoken up about racism in Hollywood (and America in general) and the sky did not cave in. I get that Chris is a megastar, but even someone of Will Smith’s status is skurred to speak up and has his wife doing the talking for him.

    also it’s unbelievable about how he had to fight for Tichina to get cast–the network probably wanted a biracial or light skinned actress to portray the mother-smdh.

  • TivoliEclipse

    There you go Chris! Starting trouble, and then you go and host the Oscars. :) I’m not mad at you. It must be nice to act like an activist and get paid to boot!

  • Chase

    Umm, ok. Why are the two richest people in entertainment … LITERALLY! BLACK WOMEN!?!?! Oprah and Beyonce aren’t only the two richest people in the entertainment industry but Oprah is one of the richest people in the WORLD.

    • Anthony

      Oprah has a net worth of three billion according to Forbes. To be blunt, she is rich for a Black woman, in absolute terms, she is not even the richest person in Chicago, let alone the world. Even more to the point, she is not primarily an actress.

    • Benjamin G

      What point are you trying to make? So Oprah is one of the richest people in the world. So what? She is not THE richest person.

    • BeautyIAm

      Seriously? LOL, I don’t know what race or gender you are, but you’re really going to come to a space for black women and dismiss this issue. Please sit down and be quiet.

      So what if Oprah and Beyonce are rich. Even though they have both acted in movies, they are not necessarily actors. So because there are only a few black rich folks, that means us black folks shouldn’t speak out against the blatant discrimination many face in so many careers? Oprah and Beyonce are supposed to make up for how black actresses don’t get the opportunities to advance their careers compared to their white counterparts? Your “argument” is beyond laughable and useless.

      Let me give you some advice. If you’re not black or a woman, listen to what is being said and don’t interject your opinion that is full of privilege. God gave you two ears and one mouth, so you should be listening twice as much as you speak. And if you’re a black woman, its quiet sad for you to have this incredibly limited view.

    • D1Mind

      Oprah is last on the list of wealthiest women depending on what the list is. Look at the list of most powerful women in hollywood. She generally isn’t on the top of that list. To be honest she is a token. In the Entertainment industry power is measured as moving up the ladder within the industry into the highest executive positions at various major entertainment companies. Black women are not moving up that ladder. White women are.

      When it comes down to having the power and having the say on what gets produced, who gets roles and how stories are told, black folks may as well be still in the Jim Crow era. They have no serious clout or power in the industry. That is why most serious black productions are independent affairs, like Nat Turner or the Miles Davis movie.

  • CayaK

    I love Chris!

  • Interested

    Didn’t Viola make this point just a few weeks ago but it only gets a platform now because (lovely) Chris says it – something wrong there.