WME and other agencies have been called out for racist practices, and the ACLU is in the midst of probing Hollywood for gender discrimination. How do you navigate that space: Being a woman, being a black person, and then being a black woman?
No matter what, my race will trump my gender in this country, and that’s what black women have been saying forever. Even in trying to be a part of the feminist movement, white women have let us know, slyly, that our race trumps our gender—it just does. Hillary Clinton—she’s the first woman running for the Democratic nomination? No she’s not! Shirley Chisholm was the first, but she’s black, so she don’t count.I haven’t heard anyone bring her name up in this election cycle.No. But that’s the thing—black women are erased, and it’s reflected in Hollywood, and it hurts. Even being a light-skinned actress, I know that I am a palatable version of blackness. For dark-skinned women, they have it even harder. Love interests, for example—I still get to go into those castings. They look at me and say, “You could potentially do this. Somebody could find you attractive,” you know?It’s controversial to point out that women of color get the short end of the stick, but it’s also true.Just as it is controversial to say most of the shit I said. But it is especially controversial to point out just how oppressed black women are. People think, Yeah, but Oprah! or, Yeah, but Beyonce! It shatters me; it’s crazy to me. [Black women] might be a part of pop culture, but we are also jokes, we are buffoons, we are for gay men to inhabit. Living in New York, in Chelsea, it was not uncommon to hear [from gay men], “Oh, my inner black woman is about to come out!” You don’t have an inner black woman. Stop taking my identity and putting it on. I’m more than this.