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Billy Dee Williams Told Bill Maher That Black Face Is Fine

By Andrew Sanford | Celebrity | April 11, 2024 |

By Andrew Sanford | Celebrity | April 11, 2024 |


GettyImages-1194755027.jpg

Blackface has a horrific history. At worst, it was used to mock and belittle Black people. At best, it has taken work away from actors of color, which, in turn, mocks and belittles them. Hollywood has a complicated history with the shameful act. Attempts have been made to address the use of blackface with humor. It never goes well.

People know that blackface is wrong, and they always have. Even when it was “acceptable,” people still knew it was bad. They would point out that they knew it was bad as a way to skirt around criticism or lean into it without caring, only give hat-in-hand apologies later on. Blackface is bad! But not according to Billy Dee Williams.

Lando himself appeared on Club Random withBill Maher, which is another thing people shouldn’t be doing. During their lengthy sitdown, the topic of Laurence Olivier playing Othello came up. It is a performance that Williams admires. “When he did Othello, I fell out laughing. He stuck his a— out and walked around with his a—,” Billy Dee told Maher. “You know, because Black people are supposed to have big a—. I fell out laughing. I thought it was hysterical. I loved it.”

The moment leaves Maher, joint in hand, a little stunned. But he agrees with Williams and laments that such a thing could not happen today. To which Williams remarks, “Why? Why not? You should do it. If you’re an actor, you should do anything you want to do.”

The idea that an actor should be able to play any role is not new. But it undercuts one of the main issues with blackface and other similar practices. Until people of color are hired and/or promoted at the same rate as white people, having a white actor use blackface takes roles away from people of color. Bill Maher of all people, to his limited credit, points this out!

Williams does try to explain himself. He claims, “The point is that you don’t go through life feeling like I’m a victim. I refuse to go through life saying to the world, ‘I’m pissed off.’ I’m not going to be pissed off 24 hours a day.” Maher then takes the opportunity to agree and make a joke about Billy Dee not having to be made because he got laid a bunch.

The video below is cued up to the discussion. Watch it if you want. I’m going to go shower.