Julianne Hough didn’t understand the implications of wearing blackface, says Laverne Cox.
The 25-year-old actress sparked controversy last week when she stepped out for an early Halloween party as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, an inmate from the popular Netflix prison drama Orange Is the New Black, co-starring Laverne.
Critics were outraged to see the fair-skinned dancer had made her complexion several shades darker, appearing to recreate the theatrical make-up once used to create caricatures of African Americans in minstrel shows.
While Laverne is pleased Julianne is a fan of the series, she chose her words carefully when addressing how the former dancer depicted her co-star, actress Uzo Aduba.
“I think it’s great she likes our show. Crazy Eyes is my favorite character besides mine too,” Laverne told Entertainment Weekly.
“But it’s really interesting that she doesn’t seem to understand. It’s historically tricky in this country to re-create blackface,” she continued. “I’m not opposed to someone having their form of expression, but she seemed to be completely unaware of the historical implications going in, and I think that’s problematic. If you want to make a choice like that, I think it’s important to understand the historical context you are walking into.”
Laverne’s comments come just days after Julianne issued an apology for her misstep.
The star took to Twitter to explain she was simply trying to pay the makers of the show a compliment.
“I am a huge fan of the show ‘Orange is the New Black,’ actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way,” Julianne wrote.
“I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize.”
Julianne’s brother, Dancing With the Stars professional Derek Hough, subsequently defended her actions.
The 28-year-old did admit it wasn’t his sister’s “brightest moment”.
“She’s so apologetic,” Derek told E! News. “She’s so so sorry and I just hope that we can all forgive her and move on.”
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