Multiple Hollywood A-listers have told stories of being famously passed over or rejected for certain movie classics. Some rumors may have never been confirmed while others come as a total surprise. The latest star to reveal a missed opportunity was You People’s Nia Long. The Hollywood icon made waves by revealing she got rejected from the 2000 Charlie’s Angels movie. In telling her story, Long finally got the chance to reveal why she was rejected after her audition decades ago.
The Best Man star got to clear the air while being interviewed on The Drew Barrymore Show. It was Barrymore, not Long, who brought up the viral story on her show. The Charlie’s Angels alum recalled before production started she and her production company were doing chemistry reads with multiple actors. Upon hearing about the acting veteran’s audition story, she called the situation from decades ago “bizarre.” Barrymore also mentioned a producer saying something about Long’s eyebrows. Her confusion led to the Friday icon recalling what happened after her well-received audition.
So, here’s what happened. I go and I audition. First of all, I was so excited to meet you. It went really well. I’ll tell you what I think the real reason is, but I’ll first set the story up for you. So, I go in and I audition. Then, you go home and you wait and you hope to get the response, which is you’re going to get the job. I didn’t get the job. It’s okay, it happens. But the feedback was my eyebrows were too sophisticated, and I looked too old next to Drew. That was the feedback, and I was like ‘What?’ It was just an odd way of saying ‘You didn’t get the job.’
Nia Long took the rejection on the chin as it comes with the territory. It was the audition feedback that threw the beloved actress for a loop. Comments on her appearance and age didn’t seem necessary after the rejection. Oscar winner Viola Davis has spoken about similar experiences in Hollywood. However, Long felt the odd notes weren’t the real reason she didn’t become part of the cinematic trio. The Missing star recalled the film industry was pushing for diversity on a surface level during the 1990s. However, she then got candid, claiming Hollywood wasn’t ready to put a Black woman in a previously white role.
So, now, that I’m older and wiser, and we’ve been in this business for a long time. I think what was happening during that time is there were all these conversations about diversity, but people weren’t really pulling the trigger. I don’t think this has anything to do with you or your partner or your film company. I think this is just a result of the fear of really putting a Black woman into a film that never cast anyone Black. It was a first time for them. There was this initiative to cast more Black women, have more Black women on set, but Hollywood wasn’t quite doing it. Because I remember during that time I actually auditioned for so many roles that weren’t written Black to the point where I was exhausted. It was almost like ‘Bring the Black girls in, bring the Black actors in so we can say that we did it, but we’re not going to necessarily pull the trigger.
Long’s take wasn’t surprising given her honest thoughts on Hollywood like King Richard star Aunjanue Ellis. While the 1990s showcased diverse films, the number of all-Black and all-white casts was notable during the time. That doesn’t mean the diverse casts weren’t happening either, but most times, Black actors and actresses were relegated to supporting or minor roles. There were a handful of Black-led 1990s films with only a few led by Black women. Having been in several classic films, Long did notice some changes from Hollywood producers, including Barrymore, since the 1990s.
So, what I will say now is things have changed a little. I thank God for producers like you because I know you’re aware and you’re sensitive to it because you’re having the conversation.
After hearing the Hollywood icon’s account, Drew Barrymore admitted she and her producing partner were pushing for a diverse lineup. The Hollywood star explained they felt terrible when the trio included two white women - her and Cameron Diaz. Barrymore even called out the original series for its lack of diversity. This only pushed the producing duo to seek an actress of color to round out the lineup.
The A-lister seemed dumbfounded about why Long’s eyebrows were a problem, saying the note “doesn’t make any sense.” To drive the point home, the Ever After star mentioned fellow Angel Lucy Liu and Long are the same age. However, the two women didn’t hold a grudge as they mentioned possibly working together in the future.
Not becoming an Angel hasn’t stooped Nia Long’s acting career. She is currently in two films – the hit thriller Missing, which is currently in movie theaters, and the comedy You People, which is available through a Netflix subscription. If you want to see what new movies are coming out, check out our 2023 movie schedule.