Vanessa Bell Calloway Believes Her Skin Tone Affected Her ‘Coming to America’ Casting |

Vanessa Bell Calloway Believes Her Skin Tone Affected Her ‘Coming to America’ Casting

Vanessa Bell Calloway is speaking to her role in 1988’s ‘Coming to America’ and, in retrospect, she says she originally auditioned for the lead female role of Lisa — played by Shari Headley.

Vanessa believes her skin color played a role in her not getting the part.

via Page Six:

“When you have white people hiring black people in movies, sometimes a certain look is wanted,” Calloway, 67, tells Page Six. Calloway got the impression that the film’s team “wanted a light-skinned girl. I just wasn’t light enough, even though Eddie had the final say on who played Lisa.”

She continued, “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.”

Calloway, who’s also been seen in Showtime’s “Shameless” recently, adds, “I didn’t want the part of Imani, I wanted to be Lisa — I had read the script and I wanted the bigger role.”

The production then allegedly said she would be great for the role of Imani and asked her to read for the part.

“At that point, I knew I was not going to get Lisa. So I went outside in the hallway, looked over the part with five minutes of preparation, went back in, and did the best I could.”

Calloway says that despite her experience, the opportunity outweighed her misgivings.

“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.”

Calloway will appear in a cameo in the film’s sequel, “Coming 2 America,” which will premiere on March 5 on Amazon Prime. She currently stars in “Saints & Sinners: Judgement Day” on the Bounce network.

We all know how the industry works — especially back then.

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