Kerry Washington Talks Type Casting in Hollywood, Reveals Being Fired from Roles Because She Wasn’t ‘Hood’ Enough
Hollywood’s type casting of African-American actors is nothing new. On a good day, you’ll catch a strong Black female lead on the silver screen. But more often than not, the roles of gangstas, pimps or all-around ghetto characters are reserved for Black thespians.
“Scandal’s” Kerry Washington recounts her first-hand experiences with type casting along with “Master of None” actor Aziz Ansari during an episode of Variety’s “Actors to Actors.”
During the candid sit-down, Washington reveals that she was let go from two TV pilots because producers didn’t think she was ‘hood’ enough for the role.
“Before ‘Scandal,’ I was actually cast in two other pilots,” the actress explained. “Both went to series, but I was fired and recast,” Washington said. “For both, it was because they wanted me to sound more ‘girlfriend,’ more like ‘hood,’ more ‘urban.’ ”
She simply didn’t fit the stereotype — their idea of how a Black woman is supposed to behave. According to Variety, Washington quickly learned she wasn’t the only one experiencing these “racial clichés.”
“I’ve had friends of mine say like they’re tired of ‘gayface’ and I was like, ‘What’s gayface?’ They were like, ‘It’s the gay version of blackface, like come in and be more effeminate,’ ” she explained.
During the interview, Ansari, who is of Indian descent, recalled times when he showed up to auditions only to find out he was cast because he fit a certain stereotype.
“A lot of other minority actors have told me, ‘Oh, this so rings a bell’ when you go into an audition room and you see a bunch of people that look like you and you just start feeling like, ‘Oh I’m not here [for me], I’m here because I fit what looks like the person they want in here,’ ” Ansari said.
The actor was referencing a “Master of None” episode titled “Indians on TV” where the executive producer addressed the struggles of auditioning, Variety reports.
Despite being axed for failing to be Hollywood’s stereotypical Black girl, Washington has enjoyed much success on the ABC drama “Scandal,” which wrapped up its fifth season last month.
“I definitely feel like I’m at that point where it’s nice to not have to sit at home and wait to be invited to the party, but to be creating work for yourself,” Washington said.