The highly anticipated Coming to America sequel, called Coming 2 America, drops on Amazon Prime on March 5. The original was released in 1989 and was an instant classic. Vanessa Bell Calloway, who portrayed Imani, the woman Eddie Murphy’s character was supposed to marry, says she originally auditioned for the lead but was cast in the smaller role due to colorism.
The actress told Page Six, “When you have white people hiring Black people in movies, sometimes a certain look is wanted.”
She claims the film’s team “wanted a light-skinned girl. I just wasn’t light enough, even though Eddie had the final say on who played Lisa.”
Lisa was played by Shari Headley.
Calloway continued, “That’s something that we’ve always dealt with within our race: A lot of men were indoctrinated by having a white woman or light-skinned woman on their arm… I didn’t want the part of Imani, I wanted to be Lisa — I had read the script and I wanted the bigger role.”
Nonetheless, Calloway says she is still grateful to have been in the film.
“The real deal is, when you’re in a situation like that, you wanna be a part of an Eddie Murphy movie. I wasn’t gonna say no! I would’ve loved to have had the lead part, but I was very happy to be in the movie. I can’t lie about that. I said, ‘I’ll make the best out of this and I’ll be the best.’ It was a smaller role but it was a glamorous part to play. And Shari did a great job.”
Calloway has a cameo in Coming 2 America, which will see Murphy return as Prince Akeem who is set to be crowned as king. However, he soon discovers that he has a son from Queens, New York that he never knew about. To honor his father’s (James Earl Jones) dying wish and to prepare his son to be the newly crowned prince, Murphy’s beloved character returns to America once again.
Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Shari Headley and KiKi Layne will also star alongside Murphy.
Watch the latest trailer below:
(Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)