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Alexandra Shipp Defends Her Questionable Comments On Colorism, Says Light Skin Actresses Shouldn’t Deny Themselves Roles

How many times can one miss the mark and the point?

In a new interview with Heroine Magazine, Alexandra Shipp once again attempts to address the issue of colorism.

The last time she publicly spoke on the topic, she received backlash as it was abundantly clear she was confused on the difference between racism and colorism. Now, the actress has given it another go. When interviewer Lindsey Okubo asked her about the Twitter incident and the accusations of not understanding colorism, she justifies her answers by saying that "colorism is a derivative of racism." 

"Being biracial we walk this weird silver lining that extends from slavery and the systemic racism instilled in America. In my opinion, colorism is a derivative of racism. It’s this caste system that’s been created to keep black people divided and personally I don’t like to play in that world because no one is going to tell me that I’m not black. There’s no time in my life where I haven’t acknowledged that when it comes to my appearance, it’s not someone’s like, oh wow, what a beautiful white woman, no one has ever said that to me."

True enough, although the question of her blackness didn't seem to be the issue that people were having with her. She goes on to explain that she was only speaking on her "personal experience."

"What I experienced on Twitter which I personally, had no idea the grandiose of speaking on it, I was speaking on a personal experience and I feel like I was this metaphorical straw that broke this interracial camel’s back. I wasn’t trying to offend anyone, but at the same time if my work offends you, let’s take a step back and ask why my personal experience is offensive to you?"

"When we’re talking about the reality of the situation, I’m not wearing blackface, I’m not putting on a prosthetic nose or lips, I’m not trying to kink my hair up so that I can have a fro, I have a fro," she continues. "But if someone said, 'Alex, we want you to play this historical figure but we’re going to have to darken you up’, I would respectfully decline. I would be like there are so many incredible actresses that don’t have to alter their appearances that would do this job justice, but as a woman of color, you can’t tell me that I can’t play a woman of color because I don’t match the Crayola marker from 1975 when they drew the comic, that makes no sense."

From here, the X-Men: Apocalypse actress addressed the reason why she took the role of Storm despite the comic character's darker complexion, or why Amandla Stenberg's decision to back out of Black Panther (although it hasn't been confirmed that she would have gotten the part) was uncalled for. 

"If this keeps becoming a conversation about my skin tone rather than my artistry, then I’m willing to have that conversation respectfully, but majority of the time it’s like, oh you should give up the role in order to allow other actresses and I’m like, you guys know that if I don’t take it, there’s a girl below me and if she doesn’t take it, there’s a girl below her," she says.

"If all of us banned together in a perfect world and say no, this is meant for a dark-skinned actress, the studio would say you’ve lost your damn mind and hire a younger, light-skinned actress."

Oh, really?

Photo: Giphy
Photo: Giphy

She believes the only way we can create social change is "not by denying ourselves roles but taking the roles, changing the way that people see those roles and making them our own; saying not only am I a black woman, I’m my own black woman, I’m my own person in these socially constructed confines and I’m not going to let anyone define that for me but myself." 


Photo: Giphy
Photo: Giphy


Um, yeah, no. That's pretty much missing the mark and the point. Change comes when movies like Black Panther have the opportunity to make $1 billion, when little dark skinned girls and boys see themselves represented and when people use their platform to speak and demand change. 

Maybe we're missing something? Do you agree with her? Let us know why or why not below.

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Malinda is a staff writer for Blavity, freelance content creator, and executive assistant residing in Cleveland, OH. As a proud graduate of Mississippi Valley State University, she loves all things HBCU. In her free time she enjoys being a bomb plant mom, self-care, bottomless mimosas and painting. Contact by email: malindajny@gmail.com