As was evident by the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, lack of diversity in Hollywood has been a concern of many in recent years. Television, unlike its much less diverse cousin film, is becoming more diverse, and shows such as Black-ish, Orange is the New Black, and Empire are a testament to that.
Fox’s Empire features a predominantly black cast, with the exception of Kaitlin Doubleday who plays Rhonda, and is the lone white woman on the show. She talked to TV Guide about her experience as the only white lady in a mostly black cast, what she calls being “something of a minority among minorities.”
So what does Doubleday say about her experience? “It’s been really eye opening,” she told TV Guide in a phone interview. “It’s a sad time for many reasons,” she said, mentioning the fact that Donald Trump, whom she deems a bully and racist, is the Republican nominee. “I don’t see my country in the same way.”
Doubleday says that on set she is fortunate to be immersed in her cast mates’ dialogue about diversity and racial matters. “I have been a fly on the wall, with people speaking as if I wasn’t there. It’s been interesting to be part of the conversation [about race and diversity] among black people.”
Funny enough, the notion of being a “minority among minorities” is not entirely new for Doubleday —she was the only white person on her cheerleading squad freshman year of high school.
“Because of the way I grew up, in L.A. public schools, I’m really comfortable around other cultures. I never paid much attention [to being the only white person], which is a naive white-privileged thing to say. But I never felt a divide. She continues, “I did grow up in a white privileged way; I didn’t think that many people were racist. I’m 31; I should have known that a long time ago… What I’ve learned is that, on both sides, there is a ton of prejudice and assumptions about how the other side feels.”
Talking about her experience on the show, she says, “I feel lucky that I get to be part of conversations that most white people wouldn’t get to hear. I’m proud Empire is paving the way for other shows — for black, Asian, Hispanic and people other than white getting cast; it’s unbelievable. I talk about it with my friends all the time: how lucky that I got the one white role on the biggest show on TV.”
Empire returns to Fox Sept. 21.