Hollywood Dreamin': LaNisa Frederick is Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges in Hollywood

From voice acting to comedic roles, Frederick champions change in the entertainment industry, advocating for equity and mentorship while creatively confronting Black actresses' challenges.

In just six years, LaNisa Frederick has carved out a significant niche in Hollywood. Her voice has animated characters for DreamWorks and Nickelodeon, and she's broken new ground as the first Black woman to play a major role in the blockbuster video game Call of Duty, voicing the character Syd. Her comedic talents have shone on popular shows like "Brooklyn 99" and "Snake Oil." Yet, Frederick's success isn't just due to luck; it's the result of rigorous training and dedication. “I am trained. I got degrees in this. I am a theater girl through and through,” says the Cincinnati native.

Her educational background is impressive, with a bachelor's degree in theater from Loyola University Chicago, a master's from the University of Essex in England, alongside work at the prestigious Steppenwolf Theater, and training in improv and sketch at Second City. “I have been in the industry forever and a day,” she explains. “This industry is always going to ebb and flow, so one thing I love to advocate for with Black actors is understanding the business and knowing we have to be twice as good.”

Frederick is acutely aware of the challenges faced by Black actresses, not only in securing roles but also in receiving equitable pay. Studies reveal that Black actresses earn significantly less than their white counterparts, with disparities evident across all levels of fame and performance intensity. This wage gap underscores the broader systemic issues within the industry, where Black talent often battles both underrepresentation and underpayment.

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Rather than passively waiting for opportunities, Frederick creates her own. Together with Danielle Pinnock of "Ghosts," she produces the Instagram series "Hashtag Booked," described as “comedic activism.” The series delves into the unique challenges Black actresses face in an industry slow to embrace diversity. “One thing I've learned is that Black folks aren't taught enough about the business. What to do when you get a big paycheck, for example. So I think a lot of that comes down to offering guidance and mentorship. I've been very blessed, so I’m all about ‘each one teach one,’” she says.

Frederick’s upcoming projects include a campaign with Queen Latifah and a film opposite Margaret Cho. Regardless of her roles, Frederick is committed to developing her own content to combat stereotyping. “There's still often the challenge of getting cast as that one-dimensional character,” she remarks. “We're still fighting stereotypes. That’s why I develop my own stuff. I’ve been able to utilize that platform to say what we've wanted to say.”

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