Black Celebs Shared Their #ActingWhileBlack Struggles

It’s always outrageous to hear stories about how our favorite beloved Black actors were and still are treated when it comes to film sets. Some have struggled with proper lighting for deeper hues, while some have been screwed over regarding hair and makeup. I’ve rounded up a list of my favorite actors that have outed Hollywood’s not-so-old tactics, showing them what’s good?


You may recognize Yvette Nicole Brown from Nickelodeon’s OG show, Drake & Joshas Helen, or on Community as Shirley Bennett. The actor opened up in 2019 on Twitter about how most black actors have to bring “wigs and clip-ins” and their own foundation shade.

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When #ActingWhileBlack was trending on Twitter, Yvette Nicole Brown chimed in to give her experience with acting as a Black woman, saying:

Most black actresses come to a new set w/ their hair done (me) or bring their wigs & clip-ins w/them. It’s either that or take a chance that you will look crazy on screen. Many of us also bring our own foundation. One too many times seeing no shade that matches you will learn ya! https://t.co/mGAzpuoKtb

Twitter: @ynb


Malcolm Barrett was another celebrity tweeting about #ActingWhileBlack. He gave light to the black hairstylist situation that had poised Hollywood, saying many Black actors would get their hair done before a film or TV show because the hairstylists that were one fit “all” never included Black people.

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He tweeted“Most Black actors get their hair cut or styled outside of set, often at their own expense because Hollywood hairstylists are one size fit all and that ‘all’ does not include Black hair. This has been my experience for the last 20 years in the business & it hasn’t changed at all.”


Gabrielle Union believes “texture discrimination” is real, along with model Olivia Anakwe. The actor reflected on her past red carpet days and times on movie sets when she wasn’t fond of her hair. However, many movie sets didn’t work into budgets that Black makeup and hairstylists were needed.

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Recently, the Being Mary Jane actor opened up about her time on America’s Got Talent, which wasn’t fun for her at all. Staffers complained her hair was “too black” for their audience, leading to her getting fired from the show. If you didn’t think “texture discrimination” wasn’t real, read this.


Marsai Martin was one of the celebrities to address hair discrimination with Teen Vogue. But being on a show like Black-ishshe had an opportunity to use her voice on the effects of colorism and lighting in TV and film.

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The episode of Black-ish“Black Like Us,” showed Diane taking a class picture and seeing herself noticeably darker in the class picture, as there was barely any lighting on her. Hollywood has struggled with lighting our dark-skinned actors and models the most.


Who would’ve known Beyoncé had to tell a production company to embrace her lovely curves. This week, news broke that the singer had the Austin Powers poster board redone because she appeared “too skinny.” An exact Hollywood tactic of preying on lighter-skinned Black women with European features. She said, “You made me too skinny. It’s not me.”

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Princess Tiana, aka Anika Noni Rose, was a victim of skin lightening when Wreck-It-Ralph released a sequel starring a very light Tiana.

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Anika admitted she was surprised that Disney lightened Princess Tiana’s skin tone when a commercial showed Tiana with seemingly light skin and light brown curly hair, which was the opposite of how the character debuted in 2009 in The Princess and the Frog.


KJ Smith was told to “just come with your hair washed” when she had a commercial a couple of years ago before her regular series Tyler Perry’s Sistas.

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She then added that she brought a clean wig just in case, but the director insisted her natural hair was fine. She knew it was because they just didn’t want to style her hair and didn’t know how to.


Cicely Tyson opened up with the Hollywood Reporter in 2020 that when she started her career, her makeup would be “gray” because makeup artists didn’t know how to shade-match her skin.

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She added, “It was very uncomfortable to look at yourself because it didn’t look like me.”


Former The Real host Loni Love slammed makeup artists for making her look gray before, saying“Honey, I have brought my whole glam kit, flat irons, pink lotion, Shea butter at times during a new set.”

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When The Real first aired in 2013, it was hard to tell if it was bad lighting or terrible makeup on the comedian Loni Love. As the show has progressed and just ran its final season, it’s safe to say it was a mixture of both, though Love mostly blamed it on makeup. She added, “I’m tired of looking gray with red lips????”


Everyone knows why Monique Coleman wore headbands during the High School Musical series. It was because the TV crew styled her texturized hair on set “poorly.”

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She recommended that her character wear headbands because the front didn’t look good. She adds, “But the truth is, is that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front.”


Lupita Nyong’o and the magazine Grazia UK had some tension after the magazine “edited out and smoothed” her hair to fit a more “Eurocentric” look for the 2017 cover.

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She tweeted, “Disappointed that Grazia UK edited out and smoothed my hair to fit a more Eurocentric notion of what beautiful hair looks like.” Grazia UK claimed they made no “editorial request” to the photographer to smooth out her hair. So how did her natural ponytail just magically vanish?


Viola Davis’ decision not to wear a wig at the 2012 Oscars was buzzing in all social media outlets since this was the first time she sported her natural hair. She said, “Me not wearing a wig at the Oscars in 2012 was my protest.”

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The natural fro set off a genuine conversation of African American women rocking their natural crowns and the meaning behind it.


Keke Palmer was a part of the PSA by Glamor along with Uzo Aduba and Gabrielle Union about discrimination behind the scenes regarding hair, saying, “I’ve been told it blocks people’s view.”

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Keke Palmer has always kept it real about her early acting career and where it has brought her now. While reflecting on moments that stuck with her, she noted that a woman once told her that her hair looks “more professional” if pulled back in a bun.


The legendary and iconic Iman shared the real reason behind her cosmetics line that launched in 1994. When she started modeling and showed up for a photoshoot in 1975 for American Vogue, a makeup artist asked, “Did you bring your own foundation?”

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The situation set Iman Cosmetics up for victory as she made makeup for women of color and didn’t have to worry about feeling insecure and gray in her skin.


Kerry Washington’s InStyle magazine cover was totally edited to make it look exactly not like Washington. The cover lightened her skin, and she was totally unrecognizable.

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However, InStyle denied lightening her skin. Instead, the magazine said the “cover lighting has likely contributed to this concern.” Washington appreciated the apology and responded, “Beautiful statement. Thank u 4 opening this convo. It’s an important 1 that needs to be had.”

InStyle finally got it right in 2020 when they embraced her natural beauty in the recent cover.

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