Nia Long recently opened up about a negative casting experience when she auditioned for the role of Alex Munday in the 2000 film Charlie’s Angels.
The actress, now 49, revealed in an interview with Insider this week that her agent told her she didn’t get the part because she “looked too old” to act alongside Drew Barrymore, who is four years younger than Long.
“I was like, ‘What?'” Long recalled to Insider. “I love Drew Barrymore. I think she’s amazing, but I think that was just a nice way to say you’re a little too Black. Personally, that’s what I think. Because if you notice, there were no brown skin [actors]. I mean, honestly, I would have been the blackest thing in the film.”
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The role of Munday ended up going to Lucy Liu, who is two years older than Long at 51.
“And I’m thinking to myself, it’s an actor’s choice to walk in the room how they want to look, but it’s a director’s vision to help create and curate a character,” Long explained. “So if you couldn’t see beyond the fact that I had on a blazer and a pair of jeans then that was clearly not the job and opportunity for me. So, no problem, I’ll keep it moving.”
Westworld actress Thandie Newton recently revealed in an interview with Vulture that she passed on the same role after she claimed that director McG wanted to portray her character in stereotypical and problematic ways. During the interview, the actress also said then-head of Sony Pictures, Amy Pascal, wanted her to act stereotypically Black.
“I had a meeting with [Pascal] and she said, ‘Look, I don’t mean to be politically incorrect, but the character as written and you playing the role, I just feel like we’ve got to make sure that it’s believable,'” Newton recalled. “I was like, ‘What do you mean? What changes would you have to make?’ She’s like, ‘Well, you know, the character, as written, she’s been to university and is educated.’ I’m like, ‘I’ve been to university. I went to Cambridge.’ She went, ‘Yeah, but you’re different.'”
Long did the interview with Insider to discuss her latest film, Fatal Affair, which is available now on Netflix. She served as a producer on the project, giving her more creative control over the film’s storyline and her character’s role.
“I don’t want to be any part of a project where I feel like I’m the token Black,” Long said.
“I’ve been there and done that and I’m not doing that anymore,” she continued. “Now it has to be about the material and the story that we’re telling and I want to elevate the material and stories that we’re telling. Thank you Netflix for the opportunity to allow me to gain the confidence to know that I can do this and I will do more.”