No. 6: 🍞🫒🦬
You play a part-Black girl in your first role as a series regular. This will haunt you years later and honestly troubled you then, but a job’s a job and this is 2005. The kind woman playing your mom says she’s part-Black, so you suppose you could maybe pass for quarter. Your fake dad is whiter than Wonderbread, at least.
Oh how you’ll cringe to look back, grateful and guilty and Part of the Problem. You think no one will want to hear about your first-world stories and struggles as an actress, yet one day, you’ll be surprised to find how much they actually do. Do they know what they’re asking? Here goes, you’ll think.
“She’s too ethnic.”
It’s the number two reason you don’t book roles—the number two reason casting gives your reps anyway. Producers think you’re white-passing until they try matching you with a fake family. Suddenly you’re browner than they thought, an olive among peaches.
You’ve been too ethnic since you were five and the church kids wouldn’t play with you ‘cause one dad said you’re part-Black. The rumor is you and your little brother were adopted into the rest of your honey-colored family. “It’s our hair, like buffalo fur,” you’ll joke. Inside you’ll cry.
To some, you’re Mediterranean. To others, you’re Brazilian, Indian, Middle Eastern. Put it this way: You’re white enough to bring home to a boyfriend’s racist family and exotic enough for his flirtatious dad to comment on. That’s the word he uses. You wouldn’t know, but you’re pretty sure one’s top three FAQs don’t include, “What are you?” if you’re truly white-passing.
In the 2010s, casting starts saying you’re too white. Overnight you go from too ethnic to not ethnic enough. Ethnic will become a slur word erased from grocery store aisles, but right now it feels accurate. If it’s about representation, you wonder, where are all the mixed-races? Hollywood’s cry for racial purity in the name of diversity baffles you—the want full-Asian, not the mutt you are. You don’t say this out loud because you’d be damned.
You will never understand what it’s like to be any races other than yours. It’ll take you a while to accept this is perfectly okay.