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'Fresh Prince' star Tatyana Ali talks candidly about her experiences with colorism

“My personal beliefs about how I would like to represent, sometimes they don’t match,” Ali said.
/ Source: TODAY

Former “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star Tatyana Ali is opening up about her experiences with colorism in Hollywood.

In a chat with SiriusXM’s Clay Cane, the actor known for her role as Ashley on the hit NBC sitcom, said it’s an issue that crosses racial lines.

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“You assume that colorism only comes from the white community and that it’s sort of put upon us, but there’s also colorism within the Black community,” she said.

“And so I’ve experienced that. I don’t even know if it’s colorism, or if it’s like, ‘Are you Black enough?’ That kind of stuff. You know, in life, in work, for sure. You know, just make it a little blacker.”

The mother of two, 41, who joined the cast of "Fresh Prince" for a highly anticipated reunion on HBO Max last month, also recalled a recent character description she came across, which outlined the woman as “unapologetically Black.”

‘And, I’m like, that’s an interesting thing to put in a description,” she said. “I know what that means, you know, when I’m talking with friends or, but how as an actor, what cues are you trying to give me? What does that mean about this character, who happens to be a corporate person?

“I’m, like, what does that look like to you? What does that sound like? My personal beliefs about how I would like to represent, sometimes they don’t match.”

Ali, who noted she didn’t realize when shooting “Fresh Prince” that co-star Janet Hubert had felt the effects of colorism, also said she’s been part of projects that attempted to shine a light on colorism, only to have them backfire.

“I’ve even been involved kind of unknowingly in projects that they’re going to talk about colorism, but then at the same time, they further divide us, and continue to rank you,” she said.

“I did an interview a part of something where I thought that all of the dark-skinned girls and light-skinned girls, or so-called brown-skinned girls, whatever, were going to be in the same project talking about this experience. And what ended up happening was the stories were split and I was put into a light-skinned girl thing.”

“And I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is so hurtful,'” she added recalling the discussion that took place.

Ali remains pensive about the entire issue and says opinions that people form may not be accurate.

“Are we trying to prove that it really does exist after all? Because the truth is it’s a construct. The truth is it’s not real. It’s not real the judgments that we cast based on appearance, those are false, they’re based on false things. So yeah, it’s very, very sensitive.”