Folks sure know how to suck the fun out of stuff. I was actually looking forward to watching Straight Outta Compton, the NWA biopic that Universal Pictures is planning for next year. But a casting call memo that was posted this week has me wondering exactly what I am in for.
Sande Allesi Casting, the agency that is apparently in charge of finding actors for the film, posted info on the four tiers of women who they are looking to cast. The “A Girls” are the “hottest of the hottest…very classy looking, great bodies. You can be Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, mid eastern, or mixed race too.” While the “D Girls” are “... African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone.” Got lighter skin and a weave? You earn “C Girl” status!
Even our very own Queen Bey doesn’t qualify as an A Girl; the agency has banished her to second-tier B Girl status: “These are fine girls, long natural hair, really nice bodies. Small waists, nice hips. You should be light-skinned. Beyoncé is a prototype here.” Hell, she doesn’t even fit here — we all know how much Bey loves her weave.
As a dark-skinned woman, I’ve encountered my share of colorism, especially when I was younger. I had a dude in undergrad, upset because I turned him down for a date, tell me: “You should be lucky I’m asking you out. A lot of dudes don’t like dark-skinned girls.” Ha! But as a grown woman, I have experienced it less and less, perhaps leading me to think it’s no longer factored into a measure of my fineness (along with the idea that I can actually be referred to as a woman and not a “girl,” go figure).
Leave it to Hollywood to remind me that I’m being naïve. Of course they want darker Black girls to play impoverished chicks from the hood. What else could we possibly be? Certainly not women who possess the feminine wiles of light skin, long natural hair and bodies fit to lure in guys of the caliber of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E’s on-screen counterparts. #Sarcasm
Lucky for us all, we know better than to let folks who think that saying this casting memo was an “innocent mistake” qualifies as an explanation, define our beauty That duty, my dears, starts at home. We must affirm our beauty for ourselves and our children. I tell my daughter that she is brilliant and beautiful, that she shines like the sun, that her skin is amazing, that whether it's in an Afro or ponytails, her hair is a wonder to behold. And I treat myself accordingly so that she knows it’s more than lip service and that she knows that if no one else values her quick brain and her fine form, we do, and that’s all that matters.
Plus, there’s always the bright side: The Beygency will soon make light work of these fools.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Matt Dutile/Corbis)