RRI’m not black enough. Crap.

This is my prevailing thought as I sit in the waiting room of a prominent casting director’s office. I’m waiting my turn to read for a role that was specifically described as a “black woman” in the Holy Grail of Paycheck Jobs, the National Commercial.

This is a particularly nice office, and it’s no “cattle-call” scenario. Despite the funsy visual clichés of your favorite movie about showbiz, when union jobs on network television are on the line, auditions are actually quite a civilized affair with a small number of individual appointment times and kind casting personnel.

I am doubting my own blackness not because of pre-audition jitters or an overall lack of confidence — I enjoy auditions and although nerves do sometimes pop up, I can usually handle it. What I find I cannot handle is another futile session of trying to approximate the grotesquerie of what mainstream television advertising seems to think a black woman is.

Especially not when she is sitting right across from me.

There she is, seated in this very waiting room: an actress whom I’ll refer to as Recognizable National TV Commercial Queen, visible-wig-line and all. I had never encountered her in the flesh before, but I’d seen her ads. I generally try not to count other people’s money, but her many TV spots flashed across my mind in rapid succession and culminated in an image of her swimming Scrooge McDuck-style through her residuals, which I’m guessing SAG pays her in gold doubloons just for dramatic flair.

She’s black. Not me. Crap.

Oh, I am, of course, black. I was born black and I am proud of my heritage to the extent that I don’t feel the need to cite “proof” of it in this forum. (Though I will say that I am listening to my Otis Redding Pandora station as I write this, so there.)

But in the TV commercial world, I have been told flat-out by some casting directors that I am not black enough. Now, before you take up pitchforks against the casting directors, please understand that I do not blame them. And no, that’s not some strain of Stockholm syndrome talking.

First of all, some really blunt shit gets said in any casting office worth its salt. We can go out for drinks and talk about our feelings afterward, but if I have two minutes to knock this 30-second spot out of the park, I’d much rather someone say to me, “They’re skewing younger and you look younger with your hair up — can you put it up?” than not. You don’t need me to tell you that the industry is not for the thin-skinned.

 

image

Besides, I have never been an actor who sees casting directors as the enemy. They cull talent for the client, and it is in their best interest to advise and direct an actor in the hopes of making them as strong a contender for the job as possible. They want me to give the read that will give me the best chance of booking the job when the client watches the tape back at their office in Mordor.

TV commercials are the nittiest of the gritty when it comes to the need to translate creativity to dollars. At their best, they tell a story in a very short amount of time that sells their product in an innovative fashion. But innovation is risky. Unfamiliarity is risky. Familiarity rules, and the woman who is presently smiling blithely at me from across the room is hella familiar.

She’s not a celebrity, mind you. That’s a different scenario. She’s just a non-famous working actress who has been in many, many ads. Her overall look is instantly recognizable, and “instant” is crucial in commercials. If you spend even 5 seconds thinking about anything other than the product, they lose. So when she comes across your screen, most people don’t question it because why wouldn’t she? No need for a comeback; she’s been there for years.

But some of us do question it, because it is actually incredibly offensive. It is a reductive parody of a specific type of woman and the tragedy is that those of us who are most offended by it are not in positions of power to send her packing once and for all. Well, not yet. Winky-face emoticon.

This particular audition is actually a callback, so the stakes are high. And even though I’m of questionable blackness, I can do funny. Or at least I’ve been in some funny stuff with some funny people. So today my ability to ad-lib has carried me to the end of the road and now, as my name is called and I enter the audition room, I may have to call upon my blackest blackitude to carry me home.

I give the first read with a demeanor that I would call my own but with higher, TV-level energy. No need to sabotage my audition with a disingenuous parody based on who I’d seen in the waiting room, just in case this was not going to be another visit to the Blackolympics.

“That’s great, let’s do another one and this time I want you to really, you know…”

I stand there waiting for the CD to finish her sentence, lamenting the familiarity of this scene and wondering if it’s still cynicism if you’re right. We are the only two people in the room, the tape is no longer running, and if this kindly Caucasian could just spit it out I’d do my best to oblige and we could all be on our way. Instead, I keep a smile on my face and try not to picture Rosa Parks crying.

“I want you to really sass it up. You know.”

Sigh. I do know.

Take two is a little further over on the spectrum, if you will. I throw in a neckroll and a mouthpop and figure we’re done here. She stops the tape, smiling, and says, “I love it. Yes. Okay, Let’s do one more, just for fun, and this time I want you to give me even more, really let go — just be yourself.”

Hmmm. The thought that this woman, who does not know me personally or socially, might genuinely want me to be myself (“myself” being “not a minstrel”) crosses my mind. But it’s hardly likely. She had responded positively to the minstrelsy and her use of the words “even more” told me it was time to go full-tilt coon. Just like putting my hair up, I put my black on.

I’ll spare you the gory details here, as I’ve re-enacted them in my video below.

When I was finished, the CD stopped the tape and said, “Perfect! That was the best one.”

So, yay for me that I can deliver what I’m asked for but — record scratch — hang on, that final directive was “be yourself.” This particular CD must have drunk the Kool-Aid. If she doesn’t know me, how could the buffoonery with which I responded to “be yourself” be deemed accurate or not?

Oh, right. Because we are all the same and the only reason I’m not constantly rapping or pop-locking is because I trudge through life in a “well-spoken” prison of grammatically correct speech, suppressing an unrelenting urge to breakdance at the car wash or ease on down the road until some benevolent white person grants me permission to “be myself.”

It seems as though the powers that be are not looking closely at us. We are a brown blur, a haze of hair and attitude and verbal affectations and attitudinal glares. A coded caricature painted in broad strokes where we are all “sassy” and “urban” and cannot simply shop for groceries or clean the kitchen floor without finger-snappin’ and mouthpoppin’ at our appliances.

And yes, stereotypes exist for a reason, and, yes, I do know women who really can’t enjoy a banana smoothie without busting a move like they’re in an R. Kelly video (a music one, not a sex one). But I also know an incredible rainbow of women of color, from many backgrounds, who are sorely underrepresented by the lady whose head seems ready to fall from her rolling neck at any moment as she describes her laundry detergent.

By the way, I didn’t book the commercial. Oh, well. Blacker luck next time.

You can follow @PiaGlenn on Twitter!

XOJane

This post originally appeared on XOJane. Republished with permission. Click here for more  on XOJane! 

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com/ Tonton Michel

    I feel her frustration, to have to deal with that over and over again must drive a person mad. But I am confident the times are changing.

  • Beautiful Mic

    I wish that, instead of saying she’s not black enough, they could be more specific about the set of physical characteristics they are looking for.

    Saying ‘you’re not black enough” whether they are implying mannerisms, speech, or looks, is just plain ignorant. If a person can look like Soledad O’Brian, claim being black and have the main stream media allow her the platform to speak on the black experience, then why the hell must this actress go through this mess?

    They’ll tell someone like this actress that mess, then go and cast an Annie Ilonzeh lookin’ chick, born to a white mother, talking about she’s black.

    pst.

  • http://urbanexpressive.wordpress.com urbanexpressive

    Even reading this I couldn’t imagine how disheartening it would be if in order to perform and excel at your job, you have to be a caricature of yourself; a negative one as well. I wonder if it would help matters if more people of color step away from in front of the cameras & use what they’ve learned to work behind them. I noticed some commercials arent as bad as they used to be (save for a few fast food/soda/pre-paid cellphone ones), but I think when its geared towards a different demographic (product wise), they use less stereotypes.

  • Luci

    I’ve felt her pain.
    I modeled for a while, then tried to cross over to acting. Basically, CDs are not even pretending to be interested in black women who aren’t the stereotypically overweight, unsexy, sassy caricature. Can’t have people thinking that we’re actual human beings who run the gamut in terms of personality and looks!

    I just wish she’d named names! I’m trying to suss out who the veteran commercial actress was. (My first guess was The Pine Sol Lady… but she has braids, not a bad wig.)

  • Beautiful Mic

    The Pine Sol Lady is the first image to pop up in my head.

    It’s either the stereotypically overweight, unsexy, sassy caricature, or the near white or racially ambiguous looking…

  • J J

    Now you all know 3/4 of your female relatives at your families christmas diner act and talk like the pine sol lady. lol

  • Beautiful Mic

    Nope, 3/4 of them are bougie, quite Spaniard and/or African.

  • http://herdiamondback.blogspot.com/ Rubi

    The satire videos illustrating “The Struggle” are abosolutely brilliant. Unfortunately the “Not Black Enough” tribulations are perpetuated amongst ourselves. We have to open ourselves up to different definitions of Blackness as well as help others understand.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    buss a cap up in that office….then ask them is that black enough for ya

  • myblackfriendsays

    Yes, the “be yourself” part of this story was the most disturbing. That is a big part of the problem, white people think they know what black people are “really” like.

    I also thought it was interesting that the author said she wasn’t going to prove to the reader her blackness, but then made the comment about Otis Redding. There seems to be such a strong pull for black people to try to prove their blackness to other black people. We should look more at what that’s about.

  • leelah

    the only person I could think of is the pine sol lady. But she’s not featured in every commercial just every pine sol commercial. I was a bit confused at first she was complaining about appearance then she started talking about acting black.

  • KD

    Is it the Milk of Magnesia lady?

  • apple

    that popeyes lady seem to be doing well, but of course not as long as the pine sol lady (thats like 20 years of work?)

  • Anthony

    I would have been seriously tempted to slap th s**t out of that director if I were the actress and she told me to act how I was really was as if she knew me.

    I also wonder if telling the author she isn’t black enough is a pratonizing way of telling her she didn’t think she was good enough.

  • LKJ

    It also reeks of racism to me, like there is some preconceived notion of blackness and if you are not a neck rolling, finger snapping, sassy sistah girl then you are not black. I can not deal with this foolishness.

  • binks

    THIS!!! This is the biggest and most stupid catch 22 I ever heard. Like as an African American you are black but wait…are you the right kind of black? Are you black enough? Then you are a little to black/ ethnic looking. Like WTF people? What exactly do you want…oh yeah white-ness dipped in chocolate or a caricature that can make them TPTB feel comfortable but no a true black person.

  • http://gravatar.com/ifunkz Keepinitreal

    This may be bad of me to say….but, she is a little odd-looking and her facial structure doesn’t equate black to me for some reason so I can kinda see where casting directors are coming from. I’m Nigerian and I’m gonna be honest….most people in my country would NOT consider her or the Beyonces, Vanessa Williams, and Halle Berrys of this world to be black.

  • Pia Glenn

    Hey, listen. If you find me to be “a little odd-looking”, that’s your opinion :-) Besides, you’ve called yourself “keepinitreal”, so I expect nothing less. Sincerely. I happen to believe that we women of color cover a wide range of colors on a welcoming spectrum and can have bone structure that reflects the centuries of ethnic diversity that contribute to our culture. But that’s just me. Pia Glenn. Real name & real face, odd-looking though it may be.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    exactly! this lady soo is in my head right now! i am also an actress and every single role that’s “normal” is only looking for white or hispanic women. whenever they are looking for a black woman then it’s always something over the top stereotypical “queefsha,20-25, overweight black woman,very sassy,has a short temper and an attitude and is a single mother”

    damn! smh

    then when they’re looking for “beautiful black women” it’s always someone light skinned or “exotic” looking biracial, or black with color eyes. it’s so frustrating! on TOP of that they also want you to be thin as hell too when it’s not something stereotypical.

    “must fit into a size 3-4″ or “thin/petite/frail”

    sheesh!

  • Pia Glenn

    I wondered that too! (I am the author). Insecurity will always prevail in my case, but no, I have often gotten lovely comments on technique even as I am being ushered out the door. I just want to keep fighting for positive change!

  • Pia Glenn

    Yes! I told my tale but let’s focus on that confidence! Times have to change. They just have to.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    OMG!! you made that video about trying to go to mcdonalds without dancing or beatboxing!! LMAO!!

    you are AMAZING! they need to put you in a commercial asap! wish you the best of luck!

    i’m hoping to also be in commercials soon but i also get the ” you’re not black enough” mess. smh

    S/N do you have an agent or do you self submit for roles?

  • Pia Glenn

    Thank you for this comment, it sounds like you truly know whereof you speak. I chose not to name names and/or products because I don’t want to demonize any one human being. Or manufacturer. Except McDonald’s ;-)

  • Pia Glenn

    Yes yes yes yes yes (and thank you) and yes!

  • Pia Glenn

    The Otis Redding comment was a deliberate joke, intended to point out exactly what you’ve stated in your comment. Thank you for reading my article and for astutely voicing one of the issues contained therein.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    btw, go to popeye’s website and click “our story”, scroll down to wear it says “2009″ and you’ll see the popeyes lady’s picture and this description

    “Popeyes introduces feisty spokesperson “Annie” to tell it like it is on national television.”

    SMDH!

  • http://gravatar.com/missinformation7 Ms. Information

    Mainstream America is very comfortable with the mammy character….putting the various forms of black beauty on television would challenge the status quo.

  • Anon

    Part of me wonders if part of the reason some real educated, articulate, actresses are picked over is because they are too arrogant, snobbish and/or elitist for general, average, people to deal with.

    This is not the first time I’ve come across black Hollywood actresses griping about discrimination faced in Hollywood casting, but they always harp on how educated, upper echelon, they are. Don’t you know, that’s not even a requirement of white actors when it comes to making it in Hollywood, for being well-spoken, even.

    I can see how that is a turn off, and why casting agents would choose seemingly less educated (in reality or image) black actresses a go. Mind you, many white people calling the shots don’t have high levels of education. And while they may come from money, long money or old money, many aren’t raised with the level of materialism and snobbery many ‘new money’ or supposedly upper-crust/bougie black people are.

  • Anon

    I notice, too, that many within elite black Hollywood interpret the concept of creating quality black entertainment as focusing on the portrayal of wealth, high education, affluence and success…it don’t even take all that. Instead of providing quality entertainment that inspires, it portrays and perpetuates elitism which annoys.

  • Anon

    She doesn’t look odd, but she does look very mixed, despite her brown skin. She looks as if she has a considerable degree of Indigenous American admixture.

  • Lulu

    As a fellow Nigerianay let me say that you speak for noone but YOURSELF and that you are an idiot.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    first let me say i would love to see keepinitreal’s face.

    sister P looks just fine to me.

    putting on my photographer’s hat i don’t think those head shots do her justice. if you ever pass by central philly i would be happy to do some portraits that would make those cheek bones pop.

    i’d start with her hair pulled up in a ballet dancers bun. then i’d shoot down on her face while having her roll those eyes upward into the camera…and that’s all you get for free

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    most people, even most black people, have no idea of the incredible variety of black…we got all kinds yall, and it’s ALL good

  • Pia Glenn

    Such a thoughtful comment, thank you! Let’s hang in there, sister :-)

  • Pia Glenn

    haha! I love you.

  • Pia Glenn

    James! You are clearly a pro and I shall come calling if I am in the Philly area! Thank you so much for having my back and for taking the time to say so :-)

  • Pia Glenn

    Very simply and eloquently stated. Wonderful. I’m not ready to give up on the challenge just yet; the status quo needs it.

  • Pia Glenn

    Did I harp on how “upper echelon” I am? hmmmm…..must’ve missed when I did that… *re-reading article*

  • Pia Glenn

    I agree. Elitism is disgusting and we don’t need to be portrayed as some kind of super-rich superpowers either. I’ve seen that happen many times and it’s clearly a feeble attempt at overcompensating for years of denigration and neglect. I just want to see compelling stories with characters that ring true.

  • Pia Glenn

    AMEN!!! You’re fantastic.

  • Keepitreal

    What exactly about Beyonce makes her appear non black? GTFO There is nothing “odd looking” about this beautiful black woman, this wasn’t bad of you to say just stupid as hell.

  • Keepitreal

    Interesting, why are you equating being articulate and educated with snobbery? So in order to be a down to earth black person one must be ill spoken and dumb. I see whites on Madison Avenue aren’t the only ones threatened by non stereotypical black people. SMH

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    oh GOD! how did i write that!

    *where

  • http://gravatar.com/arlette81 arlette

    wow you are horrible.

  • http://gravatar.com/arlette81 arlette

    she actually looks like my friend who is Nigerian, lol.

  • Mademoiselle

    It’s ok. We forgive you. Come on back from that cliff :)

  • Mademoiselle

    @Anon There is a ten-lane highway between arrogant/snobbish/elitist and what this actress reenacted in the video. I would be so incredibly offended if anyone were to tell me the opposite of arrogance and elitism looked anything like that video.

  • Anon

    Absolutely not. I’ve just observed, over my lifetime, that many black people who project being articulate, of high socio-economic standing and of high educational attainment are very condescending and rude when it’s not even necessary.

    I work at a research firm under PhD holders with medical degrees, and ivy league graduates. They don’t put on those types of aires the way many bougie-type, new money (even old money ), blacks do – trying to make you feel less than human, or incompetent, for not having attained what they have.

    And I see this portrayed in new-age black film, this elitism. It makes my cringe, because it doesn’t have to be about that.

    As if acting a complete snobbish fool is a requirement for getting into high places. I noticed this matriculating through a white college, among black students, and as I entered the working world. I know that anyone can be arrogant, but as a black female, I have found other blacks to display the harshest arrogance towards me for not having attained as much success a they have.

    And I can just imagine how annoyed any casting director might be if someone came into their office placing heavy emphasis on those things, when they aren’t even a requirement for being there in the first place.

  • http://gravatar.com/ifunkz Keepinitreal

    That’s what im tryin to say, but everyone wants to jump down my throat! In certain parts of Africa NO…she wouldn’t be considered FULL black…maybe mixed though. Why everyone so offended? I’m tellin you why she didn’t get casted. No one’s trying to hurt her feelings. Everyone always complains about the Beyonces and Halle Berrys of the world…complain and complain about light skin and biracial beauties representing….the reason why black women complain (lets be honest), because MOST black women don’t look like that….most black women are not mixed! Ready for the attacks…let me sit back.

  • Pia Glenn

    Hi again. re: your most recent comment…no attack, just wanted to simply and clearly state that I am not “mixed”. If you have logged on multiple times today to say that I fall short of your idea of blackness, then perhaps you should go into commercial casting? I am biologically born of two black parents. Fact. And my goal is more unity within the WHOLE spectrum of color, not less, as I am also tired of Beyonce & Halle Berry being the poster children for blackness. You did not even remotely hurt my feelings, but it would also seem that you did not really get the point. I don’t really know what else to tell you, except to suggest that perhaps you should have a seat, preferably in something that reclines.

  • Caramel

    There is a reason why the powers that be in that business perpetuate stereotypes. Certain people are comfortable with the stereotypes. They don’t want to see blacks like you and me. If you think about it, what is the point of the neck-rolling and popping. We blacks don’t relate to that, because we are not all like that. Just another way to perpetuate racist stereotypes, especially now when Obama is president.

  • Bec

    KeepinItReal did you happen to notice that we aren’t in Africa?

  • http://nlrl.tumblr.com dalisalvadorade

    As a black actress, I completely know where you are coming from Pia, and I absolutely loved the article and I immediately shared your videos with some of my thespian girlfriends (lol). A similar thing happened to me at an audition and I was fortunate my skin is so dark because it would’ve been an inconceivable shade of red with anger. It is frustrating, but we are supporting you! Oh, and I’m Nigerian too, and I’m please don’t listen to the nonsense being written, Keepitreal’s comment is embarrassing. Much love!

  • Jassidracmom

    You are beautiful Pia, beautifully Black!

  • Celestine

    Hi, Pia, are you the actress who appeared on Broadway and dated Salman Rshdie?

  • mikey kun

    reading puts my actiong dreams farther away in my mind sigh

  • southernDarling

    No offense, but this isnt in Africa. This is America. And it really doesnt matter what the people in Nigeria (or any other country, for that matter) would consider Black. Black is Black. She’s Black.

  • RealNubian

    See, the attitude displayed in comments like this is part of the reason that white people are happy to look at all of us as stereotypes. Black comes in a huge variety of shades, and facial features and hair textures and it does no one any good to act like there’s some standard look.

    You and others would do well to remember that not all black people look like West Africans. I’m East African and I am no less black than you are, even though I have lighter skin. You don’t see white people claiming only people with blonde hair and blue eyes count as white, do you? No you don’t, because they realize that there are lots of different kinds of white people. The same is true of black people, even though some want to pretend we’re all supposed to fit a particular mold or else we don’t “count”.

    Seriously. You play right into racists’ hands when you accept this bs. Divide and conquer.

  • Pearlsrevealed

    The first video was too funny. Made my evening.

  • Pia Glenn

    Hi Chanela17, some glitch is preventing me from replying to you directly, but I want you to know I’m not ignoring your question. I don’t have an agent at present but I have a manager who works in a similar (though not exactly the same) capacity, and submits me for projects. I am also very fortunate to freelance with a number of commercial agents who are at a very high level in the business. They won’t officially sign me until I book a national campaign, mind you, but that’s how I’m able to get in the door in the first place and be in the position to stare the Major Commercial Actress in the face :-)

  • Pia Glenn

    Hi Jassidracmom, for some reason, I’m not able to click on & directly reply to your comment specifically, but it makes me so happy and whether you are transparently clear or a lovely deep mahogany, I shall say the same to you. We are ALL beautiful and must hold on to that, even when others are confused and lead us to believe otherwise. Thank you for posting!

  • Pia Glenn

    Thank you for having my back! (And also Beyonce’s, I guess.) Please let me know if I can ever return the favor :-)

  • Pia Glenn

    Thank you for posting such an articulate response. I agree! Some of our brothers and sisters who want to claim 1st generation African blood as being superior don’t want to claim incontrovertible geography. What we think of as European and Middle Eastern features are prevalent in much of Africa; and a byproduct of slavery and it’s associated injustices visited upon our female ancestors is all manner of race-mixing that we will never know the true depths of. So instead of measuring the immeasurable, I seek to embrace and include. All of which might sound crazy to some, but I’ll take that. What’s crazy to me is having the audacity to attempt to quantify someone’s race based on your personal grudges and heartaches.

    Remember what the slave owners learned: there are more of us and yet we do not rise up. Maybe because we are too busy fighting amongst ourselves?

  • Pia Glenn

    “Ten-lane highway”. Perfection. Thank you.

  • Pia Glenn

    So much love right back atcha, sister! Thank you so much for reading and posting and sharing! Let’s keep fighting the good fight, OK?

  • Pia Glenn

    Yes.

  • Pia Glenn

    Hey….HEY! Listen to me, my dear. I understand that this is a disheartening tale. Hell, I was disheartened in the living and telling of it. But please consider this: when my true life experience put my acting dreams further away in MY mind, I turned on my home video camera and decided to laugh about it instead of crying. And as soon as I shared that video, people came calling for me to write the article that you’ve now read and posted a comment on. So now WE are in a dialogue. I’m scared, just like you are, that things won’t change. But I have to remain hopeful and hope trumps fear. I HOPE things will change. I will fight for both of us, and one day I’ll probably need to lean on you (let’s face it; I’m SURE you’re younger than me), so I need you to stay in the game in case that day should come, OK? Of course I would prefer if you would do it solely for you, but when the sighs get too heavy to bear maybe just do it for this old lady who needs you, OK?

    xoxo-Pia.

  • MISS_EMCEE

    I wish some of you damn negros would go out and see the world or google that shit lol. Better yet read some books. Omg if you look at different tribes in afrika you will see “black” people are diverse in looks. There are “blacks” in New Guinea with blonde hair. Mongolians and Chinese get their features from the San people in Afrika. Also, add on the people from the HImba, Purros, and Namibia. Go and read about everything I just type you ignorant fool. I swear this the age of information and people are getting more stupid. Yes @ anon your name fits your mind. You are anonymous to any damn sense and intelligence.

  • Anon

    Yes, genius, and a lot of that ‘diversity’ stems from admixture from non-sub Saharan African peoples.

  • Anon

    What does being Nigerian have anything to do with anything? You all have diversity stemming from colonial admixture as well.

    Oh, you’re Nigerian opinion is the deciding factor on who is really black, or who is fully indigenous sub-Saharan African in lineage, and who isn’t.

    …don’t think so.

  • Anon

    You don’t fall short of blackness. Blackness is so arbitrarily defined that it includes the likes of you.

    However, being born to two black parents, or multiple generations of black parentage, does not rule out mixed ancestry/admixture (claimed or not claimed).

  • Anon

    Of course, I have noticed that we are NOT in Africa. I also notice that in video #1 Ms. Glenn preferred to be as distantly associated with anything relative with Africa as much as possible.

    Subsequently, she insists on being included in the ‘blackness’ kaleidoscope while pushing anything remotely associated with being Africa away from her.

    And some Nigerian person (above) applauds her.

    That’s so very interesting to me.

    Carry on…

  • Anon

    “Opinions are like what?”

  • Lulu

    You seem to be smart, you’ll probably figure out correctly why I said that later. Not in the mood to explain the obvious.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    “You don’t see white people claiming only people with blonde hair and blue eyes count as white, do you?”

    um, you have heard about WWII, haven’t you?

  • Ms Butler

    There comments are waaaay too much for me. So I am choosing to skip them and create my own. Ms. Glenn, you are beautiful regardless what color you are. Stay blessed and I wish you nothing but the best in your career :-)

  • Ms Butler

    These comments…sorry

  • leelah

    I’m really torn by pieces like this. I’ll start off by saying that the pine sol lady and the popeye lady and every other regular looking black actress are real people who deserve to earn a living in their chosen profession just as much as Pia. Getting a job in hollywood is just as hard for them as it is for Pia. They are just type cast into certain roles. And Pia is type casted into certain roles. They get to play the best friend, the nanny, the neck rolling girl. And women who look like Pia gets to play the girlfriend, the trophy wife, the suburban neighbor on white shows, or the really attractive herione. Its not the pine sol lady’s fault that Pia isn’t working. Its Halle Berry, Sanaa Latham(sp?), and kerry Washington’s fault because those are the actress who won the parts that women who look like Pia would be typecasted for.–Recently, I watched a video of Amber Riley crying over her struggles in the hollywood system. Even though she’s the type that Pia is complaining about, auditioning isn’t a cake walk for her either. She walks into an audition and is judged. she gets those same demoralizing comments. And although she plays that big, voluptuous neck rolling type she is great on glee. The girl can really act and has a powerhouse voice. I’m happy for her representation of black women on tv because she’s someone I can show my daughter. She isn’t this hyper sexualized barbie doll, she’s a regular girl doing her thing.–speaking of hyper sexualized barbie dolls. I saw a documentary once where the real pretty exotic looking video models were complaining that they couldn’t get the jobs of the booty models got. After rolling my eyes at all of them, I rolled my eyes at the barbie dolls specifically because those type of women dominate that market and they get the best jobs(they play the love interest not the lust interest) and they get the most money but yet they had the nerves to complain about that little niche market, that because of their body type they were closed out of. this article sounds like that to me. women who look like Pia get the best roles in hollywood but yet she’s complaining about black actress who have been pushed so far out of the hollywood system that their bread and butter is commercials. Pia can say she wants to do commercials and not movies or tv shows, but I’m going to assume the pine sol lady had dreams of the big screen.–I like the pine sol lady and the popeye lady is cute. I’m not going to hate on them because in a country and culture that makes gangster rappers our hereos and willingly embraces the strereotypes of gangs and drugs,hyper sexuality, I’m not going to hate on women whose only crime is neck rolling.

  • leelah

    Pia, since you are all over this post answering questions. I have a question for you. If you had a choice, whose career would you take? Halle Berry, Kerry Washington, or the Pine sol lady?–don’t forget Halle Berry hasn’t had to roll her neck or pop her gum since the late 90s’.

  • Pia Glenn

    Hmmmmm. Interesting question. I’m gonna answer it 2 ways: one is that I cannot answer it because I am a different “type” than the lovely ingenues Ms. Berry & Ms. Washington. Also from Ms. -Sol, but for different reasons. I don’t say that with any bitterness, it is a reality and I know where I do have a place (closer to the Aisha Tyler, Gina Torres, Anna Deveare Smith, Kim Coles, Ellen Cleghorne, Debra Wilson lane), and I’m gonna keep knocking on that door for the film & TV world. Speaking specifically on commercials, though, my issue is that there is little room for anyone but that one VERY specific type and that has had lasting implications on how we as black women are viewed in society. That is not the same thing as not being the best choice for a role for legitimate reasons. I’ve been acting for a long time and have not gotten many roles for dozens of reasons. And when those reasons do not include pure denigration of my racial identity, you hear nary a peep nor blog post from me.

    And to answer the actual question that you asked, if we had a magic wand & I had only your choices, then Kerry Washington in a hummingbird’s heartbeat. I think the world of her and she invokes a sense of pride that I value.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Lanee

    Anon, you clearly have a complex. You generalizing all black people based on the dealings you have had with certain black people in the past is sad. I’m sorry that certain black people have treated you poorly in the past and I want to apologize on their behalf. Please please please let it go and let God.

  • Lanee

    I’m sorry but I don’t understand how wealth, education, affluence and success are elite. Unless, as I’m understanding what you mean, all of those “elite” things equate with whiteness.

  • Lanee

    *dead* @ ” ya mama” in that last video

  • Pingback: I’m a Commercial Actress and I’m Constantly Being Told “I’m Not Black Enough”, by Pia Glenn

  • ruggie

    If your look is limiting you in the industry, make it a non-issue. Pia, have you considered focusing on being a voice actor? In the world of voice work you can be anything. Just a thought.

  • Pia Glenn

    Yes, thank you! I thought the same thing and set out to do that about two years ago. I have a great demo, even freelanced with a high-profile agent! Guess what? It’s even worse there. I was shocked and saddened to find that out. Even the voiceover breakdowns (the character description that agents get from casting) start with race at the top. So I’m not allowed to audition for non-black roles but apparently I don’t “sound black” either. I can fake it, of course, but they’d rather hire the authentic sound, I guess. I don’t know what to tell you. I’m gonna keep at it, making my own way until this is a non-issue. Thank you for reading and offering this thoughtful suggestion!

  • me

    I just didn’t think she was funny. Nothing wrong with the look but maybe they used that as excuse…

  • http://www.NicoleJButler.com NicoleJButler

    I’ve been on the commercial circuit since 2005, and when I audition, I can quickly tell when they want a more “mainstream” black woman, and when they want the “mammy” or “sapphire” stereotype. I won’t play the stereotype, or do anything that feels demeaning, and I don’t book those. It’s ok. There are actually plenty of commercials that don’t call for that. Thank God.

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