On November 5, “Degrassi: The Next Generation” star Andrea Lewis will launch a new web series called “Black Actress” that promises to explore the challenges of being a black actress in a field that continues to lack diverse roles for women of color.
In a recent interview on Oprah’s Next Chapter, actress Viola Davis shared her thoughts on being a black women in the entertaining industry. “We’re in crisis mode as black actresses. Not in the sheer number of roles that are offered, but in the quality of roles,” she says. “When you only have two or three categories for black actresses, it’s a natural instinct. If you throw a piece of cheese into a room full of rats, they’re going to claw at each other.”
Those sentiments seem to resonate with Lewis. In a teaser scene from the series released yesterday, two black actresses are auditioning for the role of a woman named Beatrice in “12 Years a Slave,” who is described as being “very dark-skinned.” The two then get into a playful, albeit profound, debate about whether one of them, who has lighter skin, is right for the part. In the end the part goes to one infamous white so-called “twerker,” and the following conversation exposes the ongoing tensions among black actresses on skin color and competitiveness spurred by lacking roles.
The show, which is co-produced by Issa Rae, is will premier on her YouTube channel.