Monday, December 6, 2021

Actress Anjelika Washington Recalls Having a White Stunt Double Painted Black

Anjelika Washington
Anjelika Washington and her stunt double

*Actress Anjelika Washington recently opened up on Instagram about working on a production with a white female stunt double who producers had “painted” black.

The actress, who currently stars on CW’s “Stargirl,” wrote on her social media post: “I was very uncomfortable (as anyone would be to meet your double in blackface) so I spoke up for myself, I pulled one of our producers aside and asked “Why isn’t my stunt double black like me? Isn’t that the point of a “double?” She responded “Sure. But we couldn’t find a black stunt double in LA. Los Angeles doesn’t have many black stunt performers. But aren’t you happy to be working? You should be thankful to be here.”

She continued: “….I immediately started to question myself: “Do I sound ungrateful? Am I complaining? Maybe this is just how it is?” So I said “okay.”, I sat down in my chair, shut up, and tried to think positive thoughts. (Hence my smile in this photo) But really, I felt powerless, voiceless, and somehow ungrateful….”

Washington went on to note that the stunt double wasn’t used, which she attributes to kicking “ass in my action scenes.”

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Flashback to 2017. My 4th job as an actor, my first recurring guest star, and my first time having a stunt double— and they painted her black. I was very uncomfortable (as anyone would be to meet your double in blackface) so I spoke up for myself, I pulled one of our producers aside and asked “Why isn’t my stunt double black like me? Isn’t that the point of a “double?” She responded “Sure. But we couldn’t find a black stunt double in LA. Los Angeles doesn’t have many black stunt performers. But aren’t you happy to be working? You should be thankful to be here.” ….I immediately started to question myself: “Do I sound ungrateful? Am I complaining? Maybe this is just how it is?” So I said “okay.”, I sat down in my chair, shut up, and tried to think positive thoughts. (Hence my smile in this photo) But really, I felt powerless, voiceless, and somehow ungrateful…. Anyone who knows me knows that “grateful” is one of my favorite words and feelings. So in this moment I felt like somehow I was in the wrong for speaking up for myself. But NO, she was wrong. See, there’s this oppressive thing that often happens when everyone and everything are ran by white people on sets (and in any industry) where they try to manipulate POC into just being GRATEFUL to be there. They do this to us because they know that they *literally* run the show. They feel like a savior for giving a young black girl a role in their show, even though most times it’s just to check a box. They often don’t check to see if we are comfortable with what they are asking of us, they often call us unprofessional or a diva for advocating for ourselves, and most times they get away with paying us wayyy less than our costars…. This is why being inclusive and hiring POC in front of the camera and behind it, is extremely imperative. Luckily for me, I kicked ass in my action scenes and my stunt double wasn’t even used. But the thing is, the whole time I kept telling myself “I have to be great. No, I have to be better than great. I have to be so amazing that they don’t need her. No one can know that I have a stunt double in blackface.” **more to the story: Rest in comments**

A post shared by Anjelika Washington (@anjelikaw) on

She went on to say, “the whole time I kept telling myself “I have to be great. No, I have to be better than great. I have to be so amazing that they don’t need her. No one can know that I have a stunt double in blackface.”

Washington also explained that she had “unfortunately experienced microaggressions and macroaggressions as an actor. None of it is okay. I have always spoken up for myself, but on this day I allowed someone else’s low value of me to override my high value of me. And unfortunately, on days when I don’t feel like educating, or exuding the energy of confrontation- I have allowed it to happen again. IT IS EXHAUSTING. But I am vowing to never ever allow these types of micro & macro aggressions to happen to me again. And you should not either.”

Read her full IG post above about her Black experience in Hollywood.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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