Billy Dee Williams Says Actors Should Be Allowed To Wear Blackface

Billy Dee Williams Says Actors Should Be Allowed To Wear Blackface

Actor Billy Dee Williams says he’s all for his colleagues experimenting with blackface.

The Star Wars alum admitted that he’s not bothered by White actors using the practice, and even encourages them to do so.

Billy Dee Williams shared his thoughts about the historically racist practice during a recent podcast appearance. The 87-year-old was discussing the 1965 film Othello where the lead actor Laurence Olivier famously wore blackface. Williams admitted that he was amused by the performance, and thought the blackface was “hysterical.” He stated:

“When he did Othello, I fell out laughing,”

He continued:

“He stuck his a** out and walked around with his a**, you know, because Black people are supposed to have big a**es… I thought it was hysterical. I loved it. I love that kind of stuff.”

Though Williams has no problem finding humor in it, blackface is widely considered disrespectful to the Black community. In case you’re unfamiliar, the practice arose in the 19th century and saw White actors using burnt cork or theatrical makeup to darken their skin and portray what they deemed as stereotypical Black people. Blackface performances would often mimic enslaved Africans on plantations in the southern United States and would depict Black people as lazy, ignorant, cowardly, or hypersexual, according to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).

While blackface was intended to be a comedy for White Americans, what it really did was enforce a negative and demeaning stereotype about all Black people. Despite its morbid history, however, Williams seems to believe actors should be able to explore any means of their creativity, even if it means diving into something with problematic roots. After the host mentioned that entertainers today would never be able to get away with using blackface today, Williams challenged the notion and suggested they should be able to. He stated:

“Why not? You should do it…If you’re an actor, you should do anything you want to do,”

He added:

 “As an actor, whatever you think you can do, you should be able to do it.”


Do you agree with Billy Dee Williams? Let us know in the comments below!
Authored by: Kay Johnson