When I first came across promotional materials for director Rick’s Famuyiwa indie feature Dope, I admit the visuals gave me pause. There seemed to be an obvious color/gender divide in the film’s casting. After several writers and critics whose work I follow and respect also spoke to the film’s blatant colorism I decided not to see the film.
While most of the criticism in the terms of Dope’s casting seemed relegation to limited spaces on social media, the commentary did reach the stars themselves.
In an interview with BET, star Kiersey Clemons, who played Diggy, addressed the situation.
“It was definitely really hard for me to hear that women with lighter skin get more favor because I heard that a lot when I did Dope,” she said. “I got some tweets about how none of us were darker and I got very defensive because I didn’t cast the movie. I didn’t make the movie… This was an indie film and Rick’s [Famuyiwa] casting was purely based on talent and unfortunately, I believe that maybe some of the girls didn’t make it into the room because maybe they’ve been discouraged.”
“I agree that lighter-skinned women get favored in Hollywood and I’m not proud to say that,” she added. “I don’t like it, but unfortunately, that’s what it is, because we have set up this idea of what beauty is and that’s why there’s only one Lupita. There should be dozens of Lupitas.”