Vanessa Bell Calloway recently explains that auditioning for the cult classic, ‘Coming to America,’ she faced colorism which led to her not receiving the lead role.


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Coming to America is a cult classic that’s set to premiere in early March.

However, Vanessa Bell Calloway, who starred in the 1988 film, recently spills some tea about her role in the movie. Apparently, Colloway aimed to play the lead female role. Nonetheless, she shares that she believes colorism played a part in her not landing that role.

While speaking with Page Six, the Hollywood actress shares her long-standing belief. She explains that having white people hire black people in movies can lead to them wanting a “certain look.” Additionally, she points out that she got the impression that when it came to a leading lady, executives “wanted a light-skinned girl.”

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“That’s something that we’ve always dealt with within our race: A lot of men were indoctrinated by having a white woman or light-skinned woman on their arm,” she continued. “I didn’t want the part of Imani, I wanted to be Lisa — I had read the script and I wanted the bigger role. I just wasn’t light enough,” she says. “Even though Eddie had the final say on who played Lisa.”

Vanessa Bell Calloway was still able to shine and stand out during her role. Thanks to her scene-stealing performance, she is arguably just as much of a fan favorite as Shari Headley – the actress who ultimately landed the role. But that still didn’t stop the actress from recognizing what was at play.

In the end, she says she weighed her options and realized that a small role in an Eddie Murphy film was better than no role at all, and decided to take part in the movie despite her initial doubts.

“The real deal is, when you’re in a situation like that, you wanna be a part of an Eddie Murphy movie. I wasn’t gonna say no! I would’ve loved to have had the lead part, but I was very happy to be in the movie. I can’t lie about that. I said, ‘I’ll make the best out of this and I’ll be the best.’ It was a smaller role but it was a glamorous part to play. And Shari did a great job.”