Jussie Smollett, Eva Longoria and More Spill the Hard Truths About Discrimination

By Sameer Rao Feb 24, 2016

As #OscarsSoWhite approaches, a number of prominent Hollywood stars, directors, representatives and creators from marginalized groups—including many people of color—are telling the truth about how deep prejudice runs in the entertainment industry. 

A new piece from The New York Times quotes Jussie Smollett, Eva Longoria, Priyanka Chopra and more about the day-to-day reality of their past and current experiences with discrimination. You can scroll through and see what many of your favorite stars of color have to say, but here are a few choice ones: 


I went to this arts high school in Greenville, S.C. In speech class, the teacher, a White man, would say you’re talking ghetto, don’t talk ghetto. I’m not only offended, but I’m confused because while there’s nothing wrong with people who come from the projects or the ghetto, that’s actually not my experience. It was extremely frustrating because I didn’t feel he saw me. That’s when I started to realize, OK, you’re going to have to fight to be seen. —Teyonah Parris ("Chi-Raq," "Mad Men")


[After] Brooklyn College, somebody said, "You can probably go to L.A. now and be the crook of the week on ‘Hill Street Blues,’ but you should think about graduate school." [At] Cornell—I got a scholarship—I got to do everything. I could handle verse, I could speak Shaw, I could do Pinter.—Jimmy Smits ("The West Wing," "The Get Down") 


I was developing a medical show, and the lead was a Latina heart surgeon. It didn’t go forward [for various reasons]. Networks say, "We’re on board with diversity," and they’ll develop it, but they seldom program it. We don’t have enough people in the decision-making process. We have decision influencers, which is a new thing. There’s one brown person in the room that goes, "I like that idea." —Eva Longoria ("Telenovela," "Desperate Housewives") 


I had posted something that was very political, and the amount of negative comments was really heart-wrenching. Then, [at a restaurant], this older Black dude walked up and said, "I didn’t want to bother you, I didn’t want a selfie, I just wanted to let you know that the story line of Jamal" [his gay character on "Empire"] "really made it easier for me to talk to my son about his sexuality." I needed him at that moment. But apparently he needed the story line at the moment. —Jussie Smollett ("Empire") 

Read more quotes from The New York Times piece here