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“This should not have happened, and we are taking steps to ensure this doesn’t occur again in the future,” the premium cable outlet said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter late Sunday night.
In a video shared on TikTok, Kelli Amirah alleges she was cast to play a younger version of a character for a photo that would briefly appear in an episode. She said while on set, she was able to have her own trailer and got her makeup done near some of the show’s stars.
She also said while getting her makeup done, she overheard the artists saying she looked “a little lighter” than the actress she was portraying the younger version of, but then another said her facial features were a “dead match.”
Though not originally paying attention to her makeup, Amirah recalled, “I noticed my foundation is getting darker and darker. … Before I show these pictures, I’m going to preface this by saying I was so uncomfortable,” she said, showing photos she took in character. She also shared that they painted her hands in a darker tone.
“I had no idea they were going to do this to me beforehand. And if I knew beforehand, I would not have accepted this job. Who thought this was a good idea?” she asked.
In other videos she also shared, “As soon as we wrapped I went right back to hair and makeup to ask for some makeup wipes because I refused to go out in the world like that.”
Though Amirah’s video was posted last month, it went viral online in recent days, with many Twitter users responding to Amirah’s story. In a viral Instagram post from Amber Phillips, which drew attention to Amirah’s video, Phillips’ writes, “Even a show about the horrors of racism in America didn’t stop them from being horrific.”
Amirah also posted a Twitter thread over the weekend responding to claims she was complacent in letting the show darken her skin.
“It’s uncomfortable but it’s not wrong. I was weak and complacent in that moment,” Amirah said of the “valid critiques.”
She explained that she applied for a role listed as a 20- to 25-year-old African American woman to play the younger version of a character in her wedding photo. There was no audition, Amirah says, “just an online submission and booking.”
Amirah said there was “no mention” of her being “too light” when she was cast or went into her fitting. And when she first heard the make up artists discussing it, she wrote, “I thought ‘maybe they just meant a couple shades.’ I’m sure it won’t be much more than a tan. And then they just kept painting me darker.”
“So here I am, in the makeup trailer of a major network production with the lead stars of the show, and they’re putting me in blackface,” she wrote. “Now as this was happening I had so many conflicting thoughts in my head. This is wrong. Why did they hire me. I should say something. What would I say? What would happen? If I hold up this production how much money goes down the drain. What will be my repercussions?”
She said that she might’ve “felt more empowered to speak up” if she was in the extras area, but she was with the stars of the show.
“I’m a little fish with the big guys. And I choked,” she said.
“I didn’t say shit. I got very quiet and withdrawn and went through with the job like a coward. I was selfish and more concerned with the repercussions of my own career instead of doing what’s right and not participating in something that I KNEW was wrong,” Amirah added, saying that she “barely” speaks up in her daily life.
“I do want to re-iterate that had I known what was required beforehand, I absolutely WOULD NOT have accepted the job. On set, in the chair, I was meek and passive and did not assert my agency as black women for the betterment of my darker sisters and for that I am sorry,” she wrote. “I’d have much rather I never stepped foot on set to be put in that position in the first place if the casting team had worked a little harder to find a darker actress that still matched the features of the actress as they claimed I did.”
And to those saying she should be OK with her appearance being changed to fit a character, Amirah wrote, “I 100 percent disagree with those folks. Changing skin appearance for a vampire or alien is NOT the same as changing someone’s skin tone/features when you could have casted a better fit in the first place.”
“But yeah, the entertainment industry needs to do better. I need to do better. I didn’t show up in the way I should have, and again, I’m sorry for that,” she writes.
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