Nia Long opens up about auditioning for the 2000 film “Charlie’s Angels.”
In a revealing interview with Insider published this week, the “Boyz n the Hood” actress says she was told “that I looked too old for [the film’s co-star and co-producer] Drew Barrymore” after going out for the role of Alex Munday.
The now 49-year-old clarified that she received feedback from her agent, telling her that she “just looked too old and sophisticated to be next to Drew Barrymore.”
“And I was like, ‘What?’” she said about her reaction. “I love Drew Barrymore — I think she’s amazing — but I think that was just a nice way to say you’re a little too Black. Personally, that’s what I think. Because if you notice there were no brown skin [actors]. I mean, honestly, I would have been the blackest thing in the film.”
With regard to the feedback she received about her appearance, Long continued, “And I’m thinking to myself, it’s an actor’s choice to walk in the room how they want to look, but it’s a director’s vision to help create and curate a character. So if you couldn’t see beyond the fact that I had on a blazer and a pair of jeans, then that was clearly not the job and opportunity for me. So, no problem, I’ll keep it moving.”
The role eventually went to Lucy Liu, who is two years older than Long.
At this point in her career, the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” alum does not “want to be any part of a project where I feel like I’m the token Black person.”
“I’ve been there and done that and I’m not doing that anymore,” she added. “Now it has to be about the material and the story that we’re telling and I want to elevate the material and stories that we’re telling.”
Earlier this month, Thandie Newton told Vulture that she was originally cast as Alex Munday but exited the role due to alleged inappropriate comments she received from the film’s director.
“One of the biggest movies I didn’t end up doing was because the director said to me, ‘I can’t wait for this. The first shot is going to be… You’re going to think it’s like yellow lines down a road, and you pull back and you realize it’s the stitching, because the denim is so tight on your ass it’s going to look like tarmac.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think we’re going to go down this road together,’” Newton alleged.
Newton also accused Amy Pascal, a then-Sony executive, of pressuring her to play a Black stereotype.
“Then the head of the studio — I had a meeting with her, and she said, ‘Look, I don’t mean to be politically incorrect, but the character as written and you playing the role, I just feel like we’ve got to make sure that it’s believable.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean? What changes would you have to make?’ She’s like, ‘Well, you know, the character, as written, she’s been to university and is educated.’ I’m like, ‘I’ve been to university. I went to Cambridge.’ She went, ‘Yeah, but you’re different,’” Newton alleged.
“[Pascal was] like, ‘Maybe there could be a scene where you’re in a bar and she gets up on a table and starts shaking her booty.’ She’s basically reeling off these stereotypes of how to be more convincing as a Black character. Everything she said, I was like, ‘Nah, I wouldn’t do that.” She’s like, ‘Yeah, but you’re different. You’re different,’” Newton claimed.