Actress Anjelika Washington Recalls Having A White Stunt Double In Blackface: I Was Very Uncomfortable, I Spoke Up For Myself

Actress Anjelika Washington & Her Stunt Double

Actress Anjelika Washington Recalls Having A White Stunt Double In Blackface: I Was Very Uncomfortable, I Spoke Up For Myself

Anjelika Washington recently took to her Instagram to boldly speak out about a time in 2017 when she was presented with a stunt double–a white woman on an acting job, whom they “painted” black.

The actress, who currently stars on CW’s “Stargirl,” wrote on her social media post,

“I was very uncomfortable (as anyone would be to meet your double in blackface) so I spoke up for myself, I pulled one of our producers aside and asked “Why isn’t my stunt double black like me? Isn’t that the point of a “double?” She responded “Sure. But we couldn’t find a black stunt double in LA. Los Angeles doesn’t have many black stunt performers. But aren’t you happy to be working? You should be thankful to be here.”

 

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Flashback to 2017. My 4th job as an actor, my first recurring guest star, and my first time having a stunt double— and they painted her black. I was very uncomfortable (as anyone would be to meet your double in blackface) so I spoke up for myself, I pulled one of our producers aside and asked “Why isn’t my stunt double black like me? Isn’t that the point of a “double?” She responded “Sure. But we couldn’t find a black stunt double in LA. Los Angeles doesn’t have many black stunt performers. But aren’t you happy to be working? You should be thankful to be here.” ….I immediately started to question myself: “Do I sound ungrateful? Am I complaining? Maybe this is just how it is?” So I said “okay.”, I sat down in my chair, shut up, and tried to think positive thoughts. (Hence my smile in this photo) But really, I felt powerless, voiceless, and somehow ungrateful…. Anyone who knows me knows that “grateful” is one of my favorite words and feelings. So in this moment I felt like somehow I was in the wrong for speaking up for myself. But NO, she was wrong. See, there’s this oppressive thing that often happens when everyone and everything are ran by white people on sets (and in any industry) where they try to manipulate POC into just being GRATEFUL to be there. They do this to us because they know that they *literally* run the show. They feel like a savior for giving a young black girl a role in their show, even though most times it’s just to check a box. They often don’t check to see if we are comfortable with what they are asking of us, they often call us unprofessional or a diva for advocating for ourselves, and most times they get away with paying us wayyy less than our costars…. This is why being inclusive and hiring POC in front of the camera and behind it, is extremely imperative. Luckily for me, I kicked ass in my action scenes and my stunt double wasn’t even used. But the thing is, the whole time I kept telling myself “I have to be great. No, I have to be better than great. I have to be so amazing that they don’t need her. No one can know that I have a stunt double in blackface.” **more to the story: Rest in comments**

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She continued explaining the experience,

“….I immediately started to question myself: “Do I sound ungrateful? Am I complaining? Maybe this is just how it is?” So I said “okay.”, I sat down in my chair, shut up, and tried to think positive thoughts. (Hence my smile in this photo) But really, I felt powerless, voiceless, and somehow ungrateful….”

Though the stunt double wasn’t used in the end, Anjelika Washington attributes that to kicking “ass in my action scenes”.  She went on to express:


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“the whole time I kept telling myself  “I have to be great. No, I have to be better than great. I have to be so amazing that they don’t need her. No one can know that I have a stunt double in blackface.”

Stories like this aren’t new, especially in the entertainment industry.  Comedian and late-night talk host, Jimmy Kimmel, issued an apology (June 2020), for his past transgressions of dressing in blackface.

Similarly, fellow late-night host, Jimmy Fallon also issued an apology (in May) for impersonating, comic-giant, Chris Rock, in blackface.

In the case of Anjelika, she followed up with a statement about her experience.  She concluded stating,

“I have unfortunately experienced microaggressions and macroaggressions as an actor. None of it is okay. I have always spoken up for myself, but on this day I allowed someone else’s low value of me to override my high value of me. And unfortunately, on days when I don’t feel like educating, or exuding the energy of confrontation- I have allowed it to happen again. IT IS EXHAUSTING. But I am vowing to never ever allow these types of micro & macro aggressions to happen to me again. And you should not either.”

What do you think of Anjelika Washington’s experience?  Let us know your thoughts below.

Authored by: Robin Ayers