Gabrielle Union Says Racism in Hollywood Blocks Black Women From ‘Smart’ Comedic Roles
Gabrielle Union finally got to embrace more of her funny side in Chris Rock’s Top Five, but the actress recently explained that racism in Hollywood hasn’t allowed her, or other Black actresses, to take on many “smart” comedic roles.
Back in December, comedian Chris Rock said Union was so funny that her comedic talents were comparable to that of Tina Fey.
It’s a massive compliment considering the fact that Fey is one of the most accomplished female comediennes in Hollywood right now.
It’s also a surprising compliment for most media consumers who haven’t seen Union in a wide array of comedic roles.
According to Union, there is a reason for that.
During a recent interview with “The Angie Martinez Show,” Union explained that Black women don’t typically get cast for “smart” comedic roles.
Instead, they are asked to fill stereotypical roles that portray Black women in an extremely negative and unintelligent light.
“There’s not a lot of smart comedies where they want a Black woman,” Union said. “They want us shucking and jivin’ and cooning, that’s where they’re most comfortable having a Black woman.”
Whenever there is a smart comedic role available, Union said there is a small pool of women who actually get considered for the job.
“So to get a role like Tina Fey, smart, edgy, more cerebral humor…no, they’re going to get Tina Fey,” Union said. “They’re going to get Amy Poehler, they’re going to get Rashida Jones…that crew. So I just got to get invited to Judd Apatow’s house, and I feel like once I get in there hopefully I’ll make myself at home.”
While Jones does have a black father, it’s her ability to “pass” as a white actress that many argue has opened doors for her in addition to the fact that her father, Quincy Jones, is a Hollywood icon.
In fact, one red carpet reporter recently had to be reminded that Jones was even considered “ethnic.”
For most Black actresses, however, comedic roles tend to be limited to stereotypical roles like the loud, angry Black woman, the promiscuous Jezebel or some unfortunate combination of the two.