Thandiwe Newton is issuing an apology for colorism in Hollywood.
“My internalized prejudice was stopping me from feeling like I could play this role when it’s precisely that prejudice that I’ve received,” Newton said of starring in the 2022 Sundance film, based on James Lee Burke’s short story about an older white man.
Newton continued through tears to say, “I’m sorry that I’m the one chosen” over “darker-skinned actresses.”
“It’s been very painful to have women look like my mum feel like I’m not representing them,” Newton said. “That I’m taking from them. Taking their men, taking their work, taking their truth. I didn’t mean to.”
The “Westworld” star previously addressed the colorism she has faced in casting discussions as a biracial British woman. In an April 2021 British Vogue cover story, Newton recalled director John Duigan asking her, “Can you be a bit darker? Be darker by Monday,” after which she “spent the weekend covered in coconut oil and frantically bronzing.”
Newton, who later landed the part in Duigan’s “Flirting,” said, “Colorism has just been the funniest. I’ve been too Black, not Black enough. I’m always Black. I’m just like, what do you people want?!”
“I was basically rejected by Black Hollywood for not being ‘Black’ Black or American,” the British-born star said. “But who says Black Lives Matter is just about American people? I thought it was for every Black person. As a Black person, there are so many places to be betrayed. It’s just constant.”
Newton added that “God’s Country” was “an extraordinary opportunity for a Black actress” which Newton “didn’t feel like I’d give to it” due to her skin tone.
“I’m a light-skinned woman and I know that really rubs people the wrong way in the United States because I’ve lived that,” Newton said. “White people, people with pale skin who fight so hard for people with dark skin, and I know those people, it’s one of the most beautiful things.”
Check out IndieWire’s interview with Thandiwe Newton here, and tune in to the 3-minute, 22-minute, and 28-minute marks to hear Newton’s quotes on race.