I want to give folks the benefit of the doubt here, because I have spent my entire life confusing Nick Nolte and Gary Busey, who look alike but clearly are not the same person. But how can Octavia Spencer be confused for Sherri Shepherd so many times that she’s got to put a public service announcement tweet out there about it?

On Thursday’s episode of The View, Sherri Shepherd explained how many fellow celebrities, including Bo Derek and John Corbett, mistakenly congratulated her for her role in The Help and wished her luck with her Best Supporting Actress nomination. Octavia Spencer took to Twitter on Thursday to remind her fellow actors to think for a second before confusing her with that black lady from The View (who is not Whoopi Goldberg).

Subsequent tweets from the Oscar winner and Community‘s Yvette Nicole Brown show that the problem is more widespread than just Octavia and Sherri.

Octavia and Sherri sometimes look a little bit alike, but Octavia and Mo’Nique? Octavia and Yvette Nicole Brown? No way. Is this a case of “all black people look alike”-itis or do these women legitimately favor each other?

What do you think?

  • iQgraphics

    a lot of white people look alike to me.
    *kanye shrug*

  • girlformerlyknownasgrace

    I can’t even get mad, because sometimes White people look alike to me, so….

  • Mo

    I am going to have to 3rd that because I frequently can’t tell one white “starlet” from another, especially when they look slightly similar and are not super famous. So maybe because we are more familiar with our own features they look nothing alike to us – but others can’t tell them apart.

    That being said, I am not going to call someone by name or congratulate their performance unless I know for SURE it is them.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

    They all play stereotypes so maybe that’s why some White people are confused.

  • apple

    white people think all minorities look alike, because minorities aren’t important to actually remember like they are *sarcasm*

  • niksmit

    “So maybe because we are more familiar with our own features they look nothing alike to us – but others can’t tell them apart.”

    It’s exactly that. A study was done and the findings were that if a person was not regularly exposed to many different people of X phenotype as a child, then they have more difficulty telling them apart as adults. It doesn’t matter which phenotype the person viewing or the person being viewed belong to [a black chick called into Bravo's WWHL and thought Yvette Nicole Brown was Octavia Spencer--I wonder how many Black people are in her childhood community]. The problem isn’t inherently social prejudice. It’s just about childhood exposure, brain development and how the brain works.

    Of course, in today’s United States we have the opportunities to expose children to so many diverse phenotypes in person and/or via various media, so this shouldn’t be as big of a problem when they reach adulthood. But does everyone take full advantage of these opportunities?

  • http://1stamend-kisa-kisa.blogspot.com/ kisa

    They do Thembi. They do. With the exception of Monique and Yvette (although, Yvette has her days when she favors Octavia and Sherri). I too am a fellow blogger and I have been itching to post up a pic of Octavia and Sherri in a post I often do called “Celebrity Twins”. They look like each other and that’s the bottom line. It has nothing to do with their race. However, as much as they look a like (favor each other) I can still tell them apart. So whoever would mistakenly congratulate Sherri for Octavia’s win is a damn fool. #truestory.

  • Bren82

    What a crying shame. They do look like they could be cousins, though. lol.

  • AmazingFace

    I think they do favour each other. The smile, the skin tone, even the way they are top heavy. It’s not a crime. They are both beautiful women. There’s no need for Octavia Spencer to feel insulted if she did, but a number of my friends and I were watching the awards and we all agreed.

  • Mo

    Well, niksmit, I grew up around tons of white people and I just can’t always tell Ashley Greene from Anna Kendrick or AnnaSophia Robb from Elle Fanning – I just can’t. LOL and they probably look as much alike as Octavia and Sherri. So exposure may not always be the culprit.

  • http://www.blogjolielaide.blogspot.com Cole

    You know, I used to think Katy Perry was ?Zoey Dachenel’s? alter ego like Sasha Fierce was Beyonce’s. It took me a year to know she was another person. And Nick Nolte and Gary Busey messed me up, too!

  • nepanthe

    they sure do…

    i would they get mad if we said ‘they’ all look alike,

  • girlformerlyknownasgrace

    kirsten dunst looks like maggie gyllenhaal, to me.

  • http://www.purplekeychain.blogspot.com purplekeychain

    The 2 of them (and several other black actresses) have a similar body shape, which is why I think a lot of people think they are the same person. Also, they often play the same stereotyped character of “sassy fat black woman” – so it’s hard, for some, to NOT get them mixed up. So lets talk about how black women with a certain body type are typecast all the goddamn time.

  • http://www.purplekeychain.blogspot.com purplekeychain

    It is annoying when other people think they have a right to tell another person when they should, and should not, be offended or feel insulted. It IS insulting for someone to call you by someone else’s name or attribute someone else’s mistakes, failures or, hey, even successes, to you without getting their facts straight. Regardless whether the mistaken identity has to do with race/gender/class/length of toenails. it can still be insulting.

  • http://www.purplekeychain.blogspot.com purplekeychain

    I’ll agree with this: “I am not going to call someone by name or congratulate their performance unless I know for SURE it is them.”

    I don’t think the “What, white people can’t tell us apart? Well I can’t tell THEM apart, so THERE!” argument holds any weight. It sounds like a defense mechanism and is kind of silly.

    This is not an attack against YOU specifically, Mo, just against that argument in general.

    Anyway, Hollywood typecasts everygoddamnbody. That’s why celebrities often look alike — they have the same features, bodies, height, hair color, etc. and they are all, for the most part, interchangeable. I don’t know shit about celebrities, but I know enough to realize that all look like eachother because someone is deciding what that “type” of person/character should look like. And when they don’t look like that naturally, they are altering themselves to FIT.

    It’s obnoxious as hell. “Sassy black woman” can just as easily be played by Angela Bassett — but they leave it to the short, fat ones instead. Blah.

  • bluedove

    Actually, I do think Sherri and Octavia favor. It’s the shape of their faces, and the beautful, large, almond shaped eyes. Throw in that they both are bosom-y, and a similar shade of brown, and I could see it.

  • http://1stamend-kisa-kisa.blogspot.com/ kisa

    Everyone is always looking for a reason to be angry and feel insulted. While I do my best to respect everyone’s feelings, ultimately, I just think that this is not that serious. :)

  • girlformerlyknownasgrace

    @purplekeychain I dont think it is a defense mechanism or an argument, so much as it is a way to explain a common occurrence. It can’t be reduced to racism or prejudice, because it happens across many cultures. Some White people think some Black people look alike and the reverse also happens to be true. I think it has to do with heuristics.

  • Monique

    I always got Nick Nolte and Gary Busey confused, too. Same with Meryl Streep and Glenn Close. So this isn’t that much of a stretch either. If someone said Octavia was great in Monster’s Ball, THAT would be grounds for serious side-eye!

  • Tonton Michel

    It’s easy to mix up people if you never paid attention to them in the first place.

  • Mo

    girlformerlyknownasgrace pretty much summed up what I was saying about the situation. I don’t think it is a “defense mechanism” to say that mistaking 2 or 3 people that look similarly to one another is not necessarily always a case of rampant racism.

    Like I stated, I can not always tell white – and sometimes black – actresses I am not that familiar with apart and I do not think I am a rascist. I just don”t see them often enough to catch nuances in their features.

    So from a personal standpoint I think that arguement is valid.

    Now, you tell me you thought Sherri Shepherd was Halle Berry and there may be a further discussion to have.

  • Elle Michelle

    @ Cole: I think Katy Perry and Zoey Deschanel look alike too! I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  • Elle Michelle


  • modern lady

    I don’t think it’s racial-she DOES look kind of like her.

  • http://www.purplekeychain.blogspot.com purplekeychain

    “Now, you tell me you thought Sherri Shepherd was Halle Berry and there may be a further discussion to have.”

    ahahhaha! Touche.

  • Whatever

    “Also, they often play the same stereotyped character of “sassy fat black woman” – so it’s hard, for some, to NOT get them mixed up. So lets talk about how black women with a certain body type are typecast all the goddamn time.”


  • sholla21

    Octavia always reminded me of Sherri so I understand why some people might be confused. It’s easy to tell them apart, but I see the resemblance.
    LOL@ the Nick Nolte/Gary Busey example. Again, I never took one for the other, but those two could be brothers, let’s be serious.

  • Nicole


    A lot of asian people look a like to me to. Whatever.

  • http://theposhbrownboutique.bigcartel.com jenna pearle

    i think whether ‘we’ make the same generalization is beside the point. racist is probably too strong a word for this but it is frustrating and insulting. it reminds me of family members who don’t care that some of my friends are filipino or korean and NOT chinese. or to the black and/or white students at my high school who didn’t care that my family is from the dutch west indies and NOT jamaican. i’m able to tell the difference between all the examples given so far but i pay attention to details and hate generalizing. plus, i’m good with faces. before i watch a show (like the housewives of…idk, the one w. taylor, for instance), people tend to look the same. however, after the 1st episode, i tend to notice differences. i guess we have to be more vigilant since people don’t like being told they’re interchangable.

  • Harmony

    What’s worse about it in HW is the fact that the producers give a similar look to the actors and actresses because of money. Everybody looks the same to get money into the theaters because humans often go for a certain look or looks. A lot of actors and actresses look like their counter parts. I remember I watched the trailer for Atonement and could have sworn that was Natalie Portman not Keira Knightly.

  • Damali

    Since I was not familiar with Octavia’s work, when The Help came out and her pic started circulating I also thought at first glance “Sherri Shepherd?” Now that I’ve seen her work I still see a resemblance..same lovely expressive eyes. Must agree about the young white starlets..whenever I notice a Vanity Fair cover of the “up & comers” it just looks like the same girl over and over again….and the TV commercials for all the random vampire, dead people, witches shows…looks like the same actors/actresses in each show..

  • EmmyRose

    They do kinda look alike to me. *shrug* LOL

  • rhonda

    but they do sorta look alike to me though….[shrug]

  • rhonda

    I just told a co-worker that I get Zoey and Katy confused.

  • Joan

    But she does kind of look like Sherri. LOL! I can totally see people (black, white, whatever) confusing the two of them. But not with Monique.

  • http://tehaskett.blogspot.com/ Te-Shandra
  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    There’s nothing to think. All white people are the same to me.

  • Marisa

    A couple of years ago Regina King told the press she was not Rutina Wesley when they were confusing her with Rutina at the Emmy Awards. I too confuse Katy with Zooey all the time lol but sometimes people do it and the actors dont even remotely look alike. I remember Anthony Anderson was on Fox News morning show talking about his new role on Law and Order but, the idiots at Faux News kept showing a picture of Jesse L. Martin. Now yall know those two dont look at all alike,Anthony handled it well he said “Did I lose so much weight that I look like Jesse Martin”lol.

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