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Actress Who Played Young Celie in The Color Purple Left Hollywood Because of Colorism

Avatar • Nov 30, 2015

The Color Purple is a canonical film in many African American households. The adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel of the same name is a heart-wrenching tale of black womanhood in the American South at the turn of the century, with a star-studded cast including Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover. Virgin Islands native Desreta Jackson was dazzling as a young Celie, aptly capturing the character’s innocence and naivete in the midst of physical and sexual abuse. But afterwards she seemed to disappear from Hollywood. 30 years later Jackson is back to discuss the film and why she vanished from Hollywood.

To be very honest with you Chris I had to leave Hollywood because as a young child it didn’t seem to flourish my mind very well. I’ll give you an example coming here from the islands, I didn’t even know that I was dark-skinned, there wasn’t a color issue in my head. I always thought I was beautiful. And it wasn’t moreso until I got in Hollywood that I started understanding that there were dark-skinned blacks and light-skinned blacks and there were roles for this character and roles for that character based on a color. So I left Hollywood and in the process of leaving it, I think it actually changed and developed myself more into a woman. And so now coming back into Hollywood I am a different force.”

You can watch Jackson’s full interview here.

Ladies, what are your thoughts?

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Tiffany Williams
Tiffany Williams
4 years ago

I’m happy that she is back. Even with black Hollywood there is colorism with the man being dark and the woman always always always being light or at least lighter then him. I look forward to the day black women stop having to see themselves in racially ambiguous women and instead put their money where their mouth is and not support such nonsense.

LBell
LBell
4 years ago

I question her claim that TCP was the first movie with an all-black cast made by a major studio but other than that, it’s good to see her again after all these years and to know why we haven’t seen her on the screen. I saw TCP when it first came out, in a theater with an audience that was almost exclusively black. Every single time Young Celie appeared on the screen people laughed and made fun of her. Even in the scene where she was being dragged down the stairs…I was so disgusted by the behavior around me. Desreta… Read more »

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