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Empire star shocked by light-skinned phenomenon in America

SPEAKING OUT: Actress Grace Gealey

CARIBBEAN-BORN Empire actress Grace Gealey says she only discovered colourism and the phenomenon of being ‘light skinned’ once she moved to America.

In an interview with Details magazine, the 30-year-old break-out star described how the focus on skin complexion among women of colour was the most surprising thing she discovered in since relocating from the Cayman Islands at age 18.

She said: “For me personally, it's the whole light-skinned/dark-skinned dynamic [for women of colour]. I mean, there's competition among women everywhere you go. But back home we understand that you can look like a variety of things and still be from the same culture. What I'm saying is that I've never felt like I was a light-skinned black woman.”

Gealey, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from the University of South Florida and a Master’s of Fine Arts in acting from the University of California says she experienced a lot of "push back" from other women when she arrived in America.

“When I came to America, that's when I started to feel that there was a lot of push-back from women. I was definitely made aware that I am light-skinned. I realised that was a thing here.”

She added: “It was something that people felt the need to point out. I guess maybe it's a form of intra racism: I was discriminated against for being light-skinned and there were a lot of labels.”

The actress, who plays the role of Anika Calhoun, the smart socialite and former fiancée of music mogul Lucious Lyon, in Fox’s highly rated musical drama Empire, added: “Some people assumed that guys might like me more because of my complexion or that I had it easier in general. Which is funny because I've been a victim of prejudice as well.”

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