Abbott Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph has reflected on the racism she experience at the beginning of her career in a new interview.
The 65-year-old actor, known for her roles in sitcoms of the 1990s like Designing Women and Moesha, has gained newfound popularity in the ABC mockumentary set in a Philadelphia public school.
However, she revealed she was once dropped from the pilot episode of a TV show after a producer apparently told her she wasn’t “Black enough”.
Speaking about trying to get roles in the 1980s, Ralph said: “People’s thinking was not very inclusive. You [had] directors who were still trying to tell you how to be Black.”
“I was fired from a pilot because the producer told me I was ‘not Black enough,’” she told People magazine. “Those were his words. It was horrible. I can still remember the way I felt.”
In a recent appearance on the US chat show The View, Ralph spoke about a time where she’d experienced the opposite reaction, when a casting director told her they didn’t know what to do with her because she was Black.
“[I] had a memorable audition with a big casting director who looked at me and said, ‘Everybody knows you’re a beautiful, talented, Black girl. But what do I do with a beautiful, talented, Black girl? Do I put you in a movie with Tom Cruise? Do you kiss? Who goes to see that movie?’” she said during her 4 March appearance.
Ralph refused to name the casting director, saying: “Why bother? Look at me now.
“I left that audition with some of the best ammunition. Everybody knew I was a beautiful, talented, Black girl and I should be in the movies with the likes of a ‘Tom Cruise,’ and he should kiss me.”
Abbott Elementary is available to watch now on Disney+.