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Being a Black actress in Hollywood is tough. Being a darker-skinned actress in Hollywood comes with even more challenges.
Asjha Cooper made headlines when she joined “Chicago Med,” portraying Dr. Vanessa Taylor. She also stars in Amazon Prime’s “Black As Night.”
In the movie, Cooper stars as Shawna, “a resourceful teenage girl driven by revenge,” who is born immediately after Hurricane Katrina. Shawn spends her summer battling a vampire army terrorizing her city of New Orleans. Part of the Welcome to the Blumhouse collection.
Variety calls the flick “a sort of female African-American spin on “The Lost Boys.”
Speaking to Hello Beautiful‘s Samjah Iman, Cooper shared the ways in which she relates to the character.
“Shawna dealt with a lot of the same insecurities I dealt with growing up in relation to colorism. I felt like in certain ways I was playing a younger version of myself because of that. I had to go through the same journey of finding my confidence and love for myself from within,” she says.
Cooper has landed several credible roles in popular tv shows, including “Secret Diary of an American Cheerleader,” Nickelodeon’s “Sam & Cat,” MTV’s “Faking It,” and Freeform’s “The Fosters.”
Her career officially skyrocketed after she landed recurring roles on FX’s “Snowfall” and the CW’s “All American.”
And while Hollywood has slowly been working to become more diverse, it still hasn’t nailed the balance. Cooper agrees that she is feeling a change… but that the difference is nowhere near enough.
She does not see herself accurately represented in the movie industry.
“It’s been hard, I won’t lie. There are technically more black women in roles more than ever, but there are still very few that look like me. I am usually seeing a variation of the same type of girl which is a black girl that is closest to western beauty standards. Proximity to whiteness has its privileges, as we all know, and in this industry that correlates to more roles and more variety of roles,” she adds.
“Black As Night” is available to stream on Amazon Prime, now.