Nia Long has a new movie out: Fatal Affair, a Fatal Attraction-y Netflix movie in which she’s stalked by a deranged old flame played by Omar Epps. But doing press for it has stirred up some old, less-than-pleasant memories. While talking to Insider (as caught by Entertainment Weekly), the Boyz N the Hood alum spoke about missing out on a big role in a big movie: the 2000 movie version of Charlie’s Angels. She says she was up for Alex Munday, one of the investigating trio, and she claims she didn’t get it due to her age and her race.
“The feedback that I received from my agent was, ‘She just looked too old and sophisticated to be next to Drew Barrymore,'” Long told Insider. “I was like, ‘What?'” Long told Insider. “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.”
The role ultimately went to Lucy Liu (while Cameron Diaz nabbed the other spot), so at least it wasn’t an all-white cast. But the experience left a bad taste in her mouth. ” 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,” Long said. “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.”
As EW notes, this is the second time in the last two weeks that an actress of color has spoken about almost playing Alex Munday in the 2000 Charlie’s Angels. Thandie Newton did an extensive chat with Vulture, in which she had a less-than-encouraging meet-up with then-Sony Pictures head Amy Pascal.
“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,'” Newton said. “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 continued: “She’s 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.'”
Pascal denied making those comments.