Thursday, February 25, 2021

Vanessa Bell Calloway Says Colorism Played Factor in ‘Coming to America’ Casting

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*Vanessa Bell Calloway is speaking out about her experience working on 1988’s “Coming to America,” in which she played the potential bride for Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem.

The actress says she originally auditioned for the lead role of Lisa, played by Shari Headley, and believes her dark complexion was the reason she did not get the part. 

“When you have white people hiring black people in movies, sometimes a certain look is wanted,” Calloway, 67, tells Page Six. “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.”

READ MORE: Florida Teacher Under Investigation for Telling Students N-Word Has Nothing to Do With Race (Watch)

Vanessa Bell Calloway - twitter

Calloway added, “I didn’t want the part of Imani, I wanted to be Lisa — I had read the script and I wanted the bigger role.” When the production asked her to read for Imani, the actress tells Page Six, “At that point, I knew I was not going to get Lisa.”

She further explained, “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.”

“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 “Coming 2 America,” which will premiere on March 5 on Amazon Prime. 

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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