Clifton Powell’s remarkable acting career spans over 30 years with renowned roles in Ray, Eve’s Bayou and Woman Thou Art Loosed. Now, the actor is candidly speaking out on how he’s been slighted from potential roles due to colorism in the industry.
In a recent interview with The Jasmine Brand’s Robin Ayers, Powell discussed how pervasive racism prevails in Hollywood and revealed a disheartening anecdote of his personal experience with it during casting. “If ya’ll knew how many movies I had…people come to me, and they say, ‘Well, you should be bigger than you are.’ Well if I tell you how many times they said I was ‘too black for the role,’ you wouldn’t believe it,” said the 64-year-old.
Powell says he shys away from speaking on racial injustice to avoid “using the race card” and receiving backlash from the predominantly white industry. He continued, “If I tell you the truth, I’ve been blocked from a lot of movies. One big movie, the network told the producer, ‘We think he’s so dark he’s gonna scare everybody.’”
In spite of these disparaging remarks, Powell has gone on to receive a NAACP Image Award nod for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for his role in Ray and has found success both in television and film.
Powell also touches on how he aims to mentor young actors on the ins and outs of the industry. Urging them to listen to those who have come before them. “I take the time with the young people to try and give them all of the stuff that I didn’t know…it takes unyielding faith to make it in the business, and get to this place where you can make a living as an actor.”