A Day in the Life of a Black Actress

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 6 2013 2:06 PM

A Day in the Life of a Black Actress

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Kori Bailey (Andrea Lewis) faces an awkward audition in Black Actress.

YouTube

While filming a movie for Nickelodeon a few years ago, actress Andrea Lewis had an eye-opening experience. One of her fellow cast members showed his agent around set, addressing everyone by both their real and character names. When he got to Lewis—the only black person on set—he introduced her as “Andrea … the urban one.” As she recalls on her website,

I was so confused, I mean I understand that I’m the only black girl in this movie and more than likely I was cast because they needed a dose of color and this is their way of showing “diversity” but to be introduced to someone in that way? The urban one? Wow! I didn’t see myself that way.
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That moment inspired her to write and star in Black Actress, a new Web series appearing on Issa Rae’s YouTube channel. In the premiere episode, Lewis plays Kori Bailey, an actress returning to the ever-stressful auditioning world after a “much-needed” hiatus and a breakup with her boyfriend, whose own acting career seems to be on the rise.

The series, produced by Rae, Brian Walker, and Tatyana Ali (of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fame), premiered yesterday. The series will be immediately understandable to those who have been in the minority at an audition, but many of its moments will likely feel familiar to anyone who’s ever auditioned at all—or even had a job interview. As Ali says at the close of the episode, “It’s just a weird thing to go into a little room and ask somebody to love you.”

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

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