Listen to Article + Become a member for exclusives 👍🏽
In The Latest News Of All Things Gabrielle Union
Gabrielle Union recalls career-defining moment when appearance influenced role casting decision, per repots.
“Years ago, I was up for a big job,” she said on Netflix’s Strong Black Lead. “And after numerous callbacks, and studio tests, it was down to just the two of us.”
“I was told I didn’t get the part because ‘She’s just prettier than you.’ For someone who had low self-esteem, it just felt like there was no place for me, for my kind of Blackness.”
During her introspection, the star of The Perfect Find elaborated on how this moment influenced her perspective on the entertainment industry saying,
“It pretty much killed that confident pep in my step, and I was equating my looks to my ability to do the job. I recognize that if I had gotten that job and I was around people like that, my soul would be worn down. I only want to be in spaces where I’m wanted.“
“When someone shows you, by how they negotiate, what they think your real value is, that opening number, you have to take that as a sign. Because in their perfect world, you would accept that low number. And as you then have to negotiate your value, it reveals a lot about the experience that you’re about to embark on.”
Fans engaged in lively discussions in the comments, speculating on the role Union may have missed out on. Many have theorized that it could be the iconic character Olivia Pope in the drama series Scandal ultimately portrayed by Kerry Washington. Notably, the 51-year-old actress has previously shared her experience auditioning for the role of Olivia Pope.
“Going in for ‘Scandal,’ Shonda [Rhimes] empowered every Black woman who came through her door,” Union told ESSENCE in 2013. “Even if I don’t get the next job, or the next five jobs, I don’t want to be treated less than how Shonda treated me.”
“I was one of the last five or ten to audition…when Kerry got it, I congratulated her. Now after each episode, I’m leading the charge, like Gladiators, stand up! I’m obsessed with the show…”
This isn’t the first film lovers have heard of roles going to other actresses or actors. Back in 2002, Angela Bassett shared with Newsweek per Glamour why she declined the opportunity to portray Leticia in the 2001 drama film “Monster’s Ball.” She expressed,
“It’s a matter of character. I couldn’t take on the role of a prostitute on screen. I felt uncomfortable with it due to the perpetuation of stereotypes about Black women and their sexuality.”
Subsequently, the role was filled by Halle Berry, who made history by becoming the first Black woman to secure the Best Actress award for her remarkable performance.
According to casting director Jen Rudin, the role of Tiana in The Princess and the Frog was considered for Beyoncé, but she declined to participate in auditions for the Disney animated film.
Rudin explained to the New York Post,
“Beyoncé anticipated an offer without auditioning, but since she didn’t audition, she didn’t receive one.”
Rudin mentioned that Tyra Banks and Jennifer Hudson expressed interest, and Alicia Keys auditioned multiple times. Rudin noted that the audition process required singing with sheet music, and although Tyra Banks brought a CD, her exceptional appearance and pleasant demeanor stood out. Ultimately, the role was awarded to Anika Noni Rose, who had previously worked with Beyoncé in Dreamgirls.