The conversation surrounding the lack of representation of women of color in Hollywood is happening more often. Several of our favorite television and movie actresses are getting real about the difficulties of finding quality opportunities in the entertainment industry. You’ll find that while some are just thankful to be given the opportunity as a woman of color “playing something,” others feel that “it doesn’t fly for Hollywood to offer people the bare minimum anymore.”
This panel discussion took place at the Teen Vogue Summit on Friday (June 1) and featured Laura Harrier (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Aja Naomi King (How To Get Away With Murder), Amara La Negra (Love & Hip-Hop: Miami), Logan Browning (Dear White People), and Diane Guerrero (Orange Is The New Black).
Laura jump-started the conversation by simply stating that she’s an activist because she’s a black woman in America. The group of women went on provide insight from their perspective on how the lack of fully-fledged roles for women of color in movies and television has affected them.
Diane Guerrero, who plays Maritza Ramos on OITNB, talked about the contradiction between wanting any work in Hollywood and wanting to seek out characters that are real and three-dimensional. “I remember at first, just getting a job was it. That wasn’t even in my mind. Of course, I didn’t want to go out and play a one-dimensional character, but at the beginning you thought you had no say, you had no power,” she said.
Aja Naomi King, who plays Michaela Pratt on How To Get Away With Murder, added to the sentiment by stating, “It’s the little things when you have a moment to do something that feels more real or natural,” and provided an example of her character wearing a head wrap to sleep, something that a lot of women of color can relate to. “If I’m going to go to bed, I wanna put a head wrap on because that’s what I would do, especially if I’m comfortable in my relationship with someone. And for a lot of women online that was a big deal to them, to see that because it feels honest. You’re seeing something that reflects yourself.”
When it came to the women discussing whether or not they feel pressure to take certain roles for the sake of working and paying bills, Love & Hip-Hop: Miami’s Amara La Negra said, “If I have the opportunity to be in a series or a soap opera or whatever it may be and it’s not necessarily a character I want to be, to me it’s still an accomplishment to have an Afro-Latina playing something, anything,” she explained. “Being given the opportunity is good enough for me in the moment.” However, Logan Browning feels that we deserve more than just being “good enough.”
“You deserve more than good enough,” she stated, stressing that it doesn’t fly for Hollywood to offer people the bare minimum anymore. “It gets me in the pit of my stomach that this is the world we live in.”