Clifton Powell says he was denied film role because of skin tone

The actor also gives advice to young actors breaking into the industry

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In a recent interview, Clifton Powell opened up about his career and revealed he was denied a film role because of his skin tone.

Powell has made his mark in Hollywood with a 30-plus year career as an actor in a cut-throat and often unfair business. He has managed to find success in the TV and film industry, even earning an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for his role in Ray

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However, in a recent interview, Powell reveals that his career was not without its challenges and that even he faced incredible racism and setbacks on his journey.

Tyler Perry's "A Fall From Grace" - VIP Screening In Atlanta
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – JANUARY 09: Clifton Powell attends Tyler Perry’s “A Fall From Grace” VIP Screening at SCAD Show on January 09, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Netflix)

In a virtual interview with Robin Ayers, Powell opened up about his career and the industry, giving plenty of advice while sharing his story. Powell told Ayers, “If ya’ll knew how many movies I had…people come to me, and they say, ‘Well, you should be bigger than you are,’ well if I tell you how many times they said I was ‘too black for the role,’ you wouldn’t believe it.”

In a truly chilling account of a time when he was up for a role, Powell goes on to explain, “If I tell you the truth, I’ve been blocked from a lot of movies. One big movie, the network told the producer, ‘We think he’s so dark he’s gonna scare everybody.’”

Powell also uses the interview to educate young people in the industry. He explains, “I take the time with the young people to try and give them all of the stuff that I didn’t know…it takes unyielding faith to make it in the business, and get to this place where you can make a living as an actor.” 

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The clip ends with Powell telling all of the young actors out there “to sit your a– down and listen!” when you run into Black working actors in the business. He also says people always tell him to stop trying to help everybody, but cheekily says that he has to help because “he’s a Pisces” and comes out of the ‘60’s.

Earlier this month, we reported that actress Vanessa Bell Calloway believes she experienced colorism during casting for the 1988 cult classic, Coming to America.

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The Hollywood veteran shared with Page Six her longheld belief that colorism played a heavy hand in why she auditioned for the role of Eddie Murphy‘s love interest but instead was tasked with barking like a dog while hopping on one knee.

“When you have white people hiring Black people in movies, sometimes a certain look is wanted,” said Calloway, pointing out that she got the impression that when it came to a leading lady, executives “wanted a light-skinned girl.”

“I just wasn’t light enough,” she opined. “Even though Eddie had the final say on who played Lisa.”

To Calloway’s credit, her scene-stealing performance still made her stand out in the film and has arguably made her just as much of a fan favorite as Shari Headley – the actress who ultimately landed the role.

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