Let’s face it: It’s hard being a Black woman in America. So it comes as no surprise that Black women in Hollywood would also suffer a disadvantage.
From pay inequality, to restricted roles, to sexism — the other challenge that Black actresses are facing, Nappily Ever After star Sanaa Lathan said, is each other.
Lathan and Lynn Whitfield dropped by ESSENCE’s Yes, Girl! podcast to discuss their new Netflix film, and didn’t hold back on sharing personal experiences that they’ve experienced thanks to being in the industry for decades.
Lathan, who stars as Violent Jones, a high-powered marketing executive who’s obsessed with being perfect — even down to the hairs on her head — said because of the competitive nature of Hollywood, it’s rare to form true and lasting friendships with other actresses.
“I have actress friends, but it’s hard to do that,” she explained. “There’s going to be periods in your life when maybe you’re not working, or maybe your friend got a job, and you have to rise above in order to stay friends. It’s not easy.”
“I would never complain because I feel so blessed,” Lathan added. “But there is a unique abuse being in Hollywood as a Black actor — let alone Black actress.”
Thankfully, however, Nappily Ever After was a magical experience for them both.
“It felt like a safe space to create with no threatening feels. It’s not always like that,” Lathan revealed. “There’s the sisterhood and then there’s [something else.] It’s a very competitive business, and people get insecure and people get egos.”
“Hollywood is very isolating.” Whitfield added. “What was so great is that…it was just such a pleasant experience. Once we did the little dance like, ‘Who are you? Are you cool? Oh, you’re cool.’ Then it felt like a safe space.”
Nappily Ever After is streaming on Netflix now.