Actress Dana Davis who is also the author of 3 young adult novels and the upcoming memoir of veteran soap opera actress Melody Thomas Scott spoke recently about her Blacklisting experience in an interview with her literary agency. The show was Franklin & Bash.
Triada: Currently, there are protests and demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism going on across the country and world. Could you say more about Hollywood's part in systemic racism?
Dana L. Davis: There are many moments, but one stands out above them all. I was once working on a TV show as a series regular where I wore a Black Barbie shirt to work. The shirt featured a Black Barbie with a beautiful fro. When someone commented that my character should wear her hair like that, the executive producer of the show said, to a room full of cast and crew, “No. We don’t want this character to be ghetto.” And everyone laughed. I was humiliated.
This same executive producer was writing storylines for my character that I felt to be stereotypical and degrading. When I approached him about it, and also that I wanted my character to be a more integral part of the show and not the Black sidekick, he basically said if I didn’t like what he was creating, I could leave the show. So when I did exactly that, I left the show, he trashed my name to the network and around Hollywood. Certain casting directors refused to even see me because of the terrible things this man said about me, and the network has never worked with me again. A network I love. I never got to tell the network my side of the story which was heartbreaking.
One time, a producer wrote a line where a character pulled out my hair and my character was supposed to scream, “Ow! You pulled out my weave!” I was the only Black girl in the scene and I refused to say the line. It was degrading. I stood up for myself and my career suffered because of it. It’s not fair. White actors do it all the time. But as a Black actor, I was labeled difficult because I wanted a voice. I deserved one. I still do. But this is how Hollywood behaves. I hope it changes. I hope this new Civil Rights Movement creates change. We need it.