“There’s no dark-skinned woman who is a babe. There just isn’t. The dark-skinned woman, she is the Serious One.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie IndependentWith the imminent release her book “Americanah“, renowned Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is making press rounds all around the world. As her book touches on themes including race, national identity and even African hair, she has been asked many questions on these subjects and her responses are sure to be major talking points.

Her interview with Susie Mesure for the Sunday Independent was very interesting as Chimamanda tackled subjects that many will shy away from.

On the marginalization of “dark skinned women” on the big screen
“The black people who are stars in Hollywood are all light-skinned” and saying she gets “very, very” frustrated that black women are so marginalised on the big screen.

“There’s no dark-skinned woman who is a babe. There just isn’t. The dark-skinned woman, she is the Serious One. She is the Friend. She is the Sassy Girl. She is never the person we root for.”

On the decision to cast Thandie Newton (a bi-racial woman) as the lead in the movie adaptation of her book
Nigerians are in uproar about the decision, which had nothing to do with Adichie, to cast Newton. “They’re like ‘Ohhhhhhh!'” she admits, but brushes aside their qualms that Newton doesn’t look Igbo: “My brother is lighter than she is.” She is sympathetic about Nigerians wanting a local actress but says film-making is about “who’s good, who has been tested, who can do it well”.

I want to add: “And who’s marketable,” but I bite my tongue.

On Race & Assumptions
“When I was an undergraduate, I wrote an essay for the first day of my English class, and it was the best essay in class. My professor walked in and said, ‘Who’s Adichie?’ – Americans would sometimes tell me that from my name they assumed I was Italian – so when I raised my hand, I saw on his face this expression of surprise. That’s when I realised, ‘Oh! The person who wrote this essay is not supposed to look like me.’ That was when I understood why race is a stupid, absurd thing. That you look a certain way, and people have all sorts of assumptions, right?”

On Hair & the Statement behind It
And yes, Adichie’s hair is every bit as “Afro kinky” fabulous as you might expect given Ifemelu’s obsession with the stuff. Indeed, hair is practically the book’s third protagonist after Ifemelu and her high-school sweetheart Obinze.

For Adichie, it’s political: her hairstyle is a statement against the idea that “beauty has become this homogenous thing”. That’s why neither she nor Ifemelu straightens their hair, preferring an Afro or the cornrows with extensions she is sporting for her trip to London.

On People Viewing Africa as a Charity Case
Take the lady who approached her after a recent reading in Oslo: “She said she really wanted to help,” Adichie smiles, “‘Nigerians with computer skills’. I said, ‘Yeah, but people have phones. I text my uncle who’s in my ancestral hometown.’ But she just kept telling me about how she wanted to ‘help Nigerians with computer skills’. And I thought, ‘This woman has what she has in her head and it doesn’t matter what the reality is.’

“I’m thinking, ‘Why don’t you help, by finding out the policies your government has, and see how you can petition to change certain things that bring about inequality, rather than going off to ‘help starving Africans’?'”

It was definitely an interesting interview!
Let us know your thoughts. You can read the complete article HERE

Photo Credit: The Independent UK
“Americanah” will be released by Farafina in Nigeria on the 21st of April 2013. In the months following the release, the author will go on a national book tour with stops in major cities across Nigeria.

85 Comments on “There’s no dark-skinned woman who is a babe. There just isn’t. The dark-skinned woman, she is the Serious One.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • mia April 15, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I’m just a fan of this beautiful lady. i have all her books and I’m patiently waiting to grab Americannah!

  • Shogologobangoshe April 15, 2013 at 8:25 am

    My girl Ngo,

  • Jiddah April 15, 2013 at 8:42 am

    I like you Chimamanda. And I certainly understand the dark skinned woman being taken too seriously, eg. Viola Davis, but we have other women strutting their dark skin..Tiwa Savage, Genevieve, Noni Parker to mention a few.

    As for hair? weaves arent going anywhere soon, so is relaxers. Plus I cant wait to read your next novel

  • OlaOluwayimikaaaa April 15, 2013 at 8:45 am

    I love this Babe!..oops this Serious Lady!… Speaking On Issues some people still believe does not exist

  • Peachy_mo April 15, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Counting her books, this should be her fourth:
    Half of A Yellow Sun
    Purple Hibiscus
    The Thing Around Your Neck (short stories)

    Another collection to my African Writers library!

  • Ayishaa April 15, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I love this woman but for sone that gets frustrated about the plight of dark skinned actors/actresses/black women in Hollywood, she just missed out an opportunity to make a difference.

    • Non professional opinion April 15, 2013 at 9:26 am

      She sold the rights to her book, she doesn’t get to decide who is cast.

      • Ayishaa April 15, 2013 at 11:24 am

        Even if she sold the rights to her book, as the writer, she can still voice her concerns. Whoever bought the rights will take into account her opinions and thoughts when drafting her contract.

      • Magz April 29, 2013 at 4:28 pm

        JK Rowling insisted on having british as most of the cast for Harry Potter so Chimamanda could have insisted if she wanted to

      • Queenhannah April 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm

        Even if she didn’t sell her rights, I rather the person best fit for the role play it Nigerian or not.

      • newbie May 8, 2013 at 1:21 pm

        @ Ayishaa, to some extent she should (and she did) express some preferences. I remember her saying that she told Biyi [Bandele] that she hoped he wouldn’t cast any of these people who would do a “generic african accent” that would end up sounding like from nowhere.

        Unfortunately, looks like Biyi took her request on board…and parked it there. I have watched a tiny clip of the movie adaptation and mhn mhn… Thandie’s a great actress but she’s not believable as a Naija girl. There’s a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that’s missing.

        Meanwhile I just started reading my copy of Americanah. Only on page 20 and all I can say is hmmmm! I love me some Chimamanda!!!

    • Mz Socially Awkward… April 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      @ Ayishaa, that’s a risk you take when you sell rights in anything, not least a book that’s being made into a movie. As a writer, you can voice all the concerns you want but after you’ve signed the dotted line, the film-makers just go ahead with their market surveys and decisions as to how to best produce a movie that’ll make profit.

      I think it’s very rare for a writer to have any control over the movie production, if you want that kind of control, you’ll be encouraged to go and produce your own movie. Case in point – Stephen King’s reaction to the casting of Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” (a movie which received critical acclaim and plenty of box-office profit). King was so against the fact they’d cast Nicholson in the lead role that he later went on to produce his own tv adaptation of the movie (he’d sold the movie rights and so there could be no chance of having a big-screen remake). That’s the version he was eventually satisfied with but I doubt if many pe0ple even know it exists.

    • Iris April 15, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      She said she didn’t want to have a say in the movie’s production, so the book is hers and the movie is someone else’s. I’m not sure if I share her sentiments in this black woman babe thing though…I’d like to hear exactly what she said and in what context she said it.

      • Slice April 15, 2013 at 3:16 pm

        plus i think scandal is changing that a little. Olivia pope in scandal is not ligh skinned (she ‘s not very dark either) but we’re definitely on her side. small steps, I guess

    • Slice April 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      I’m a little shocked that people are making this about dark skinned versus light skinned black woman. I honestly thought the only issue here was casting a nonNigerian when you think about the fact that the character is Nigerian. But now people are taking issue with the color if the non-Nigerian they cast. Wow. it’s reverse discrimination. Seen too many black folks not have black pride when a light skinned BLACK person gets a gig and that is kind of sad. i know darker skinned black ladies have been discriminated against but it doesn’t make us move forward if we now turn our angst to lighter skinned ladies

  • Marie April 15, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Doesn’t that make her a hypocrite, she talks this big talk about black women not being in leading roles, yet her lead actress is a light skin person. Black people are their own worse enemy

    • hmm April 15, 2013 at 10:08 am

      She does not have a say on the cast of the movie ……although im confused as well..

      • OLA April 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm

        an author can sell the rights of their book to a movie producer

  • new bride April 15, 2013 at 8:59 am

    I’m as dark skinned as ever and I’m as much of a babe as the lightest skinned ‘babe’

    • Ms lala April 15, 2013 at 10:13 am

      you go girl…yes we are….our chocolate skintone is beautiful..”high five”

  • genny April 15, 2013 at 9:09 am

    just downloaded the book for £12.99 on my ipad mini! Cant wait to start reading it!!! Love Chimamanda!

  • ‘Mide April 15, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Race, possibly, sells because of the white man’s modern world was built on institutions of injustice . There is the white man’s privilege and the black man’s hopelessness. In between, you have the minority black and white that continue to mine this state of things for profit and recognition. I am not sure things would change unless black people decide to thoroughly educate themselves to the extent material things of life become less of an object, but rather as an add-on with a sophisticated sense of self.

  • Jenny April 15, 2013 at 9:37 am

    @Marie.. Abi o. Hmmm…even sef to get cornrows looking beautiful you have to add synthetic fibres called attachments .I love reading chima’s books but disagree with some of her ideas. This is the 21st Century and convincing most African women to depart from their artificially, glamourous (sought after) fashion look for the back to basics is a herculian task.

    • hmm April 15, 2013 at 10:12 am

      At least the Kinky attachments/braids are similar to the African hair weaves are not…but yh thats gonna be a task

    • Kola S April 30, 2013 at 9:47 am

      The issue is not the adding of hair attachments. The issue is the almost complete departure from the “black” hairstyles that made black women stand out, to the straight “blending in” hairstyles that just makes everyone look the same.

  • Chyke April 15, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I love u Chimamanda but u just f…ucked up here. U talked about blacks being underrated in hollywood yet u supported casting an extremely light skinned lady as Olanna. Dat makes u a hyp0crite. Who said Thandie is a g00d and tested actress? How is she marketable? She has not even been in a g00d/big movie b4. She hasn’t even carried her small movies by herself alone without Chiwetel and d likes. We should be talking about underrated great black performers like Viola Davis, Sophie Okonedo, Operah Winfrey, Queen Latifah n even dat 0verrated Halle Berry not Thandie. Thandie isn’t great. End of discussion.

    • Partyrider April 15, 2013 at 9:57 am

      Calm down. She sold the rights to the book,thats all.The casting wasn’t her decision.

    • hmm April 15, 2013 at 10:10 am

      She does not have a say on the cast of the movie ……although im confused as well…Sophie Okonedo is light skinned now…but yes if anything they should have cast her at least she has Nigerian blood…

      • Mz Socially Awkward… April 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm

        Maybe Sophie Okonedo was offered the role and turned it down? I don’t know how the casting process was done but I’d imagine they looked at a few options before announcing the final choice for the role. The whole business of movie making involves a lot of considerations which aren’t necessarily geared towards what a section of viewers prefer. Casting actors/actresses of a particular skin-color for certain roles is an unfortunate trend in that particular industry.

    • mama May 4, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      u have truly – up right yourself….use your brains duh……she doesnt have rights to decide who get cast in the movie…..and she just said what producers look out for when they produce movies so dont see how that equates supporting anything…..dats how u people carry false rumors about what someone hasn’t done….. it happens daily in ur own backyard nollywood….yes she talks about blacks being underated but she didn’t produce the movie, you Nigerians with your anything goes mentality….things don’t happen anyhow everywhere else so ple give us a break…..

  • black hair?..political? April 15, 2013 at 10:30 am

    This topic of hair has got my interest..I have been natural, relaxed, skin cut, weaves name it …although braids are my best .. But I have to agree with her the hair issue is quite a sad case in the Black community……. everyone wears extensions but the difference is caucasians and asians wear extensions similar to their natural hair that most times you dont even know it is theirs… I never really saw an issue with weaves and the effects of wanting to have straight hair but the more i research on it I weep……..if you want your natural afro, dreads, kinks, curls or straight hair it is totally fine but no one should look down on the other……..we have American stars like Nicki minaj insulting the ‘nappy hair'(her fellow black womans hair) in songs smh..most black main American artist go blonde once they start making money, NM, beyonce, Mary j, Rihanna and so on…..teenagers been bullied for looking untidy by their fellow blacks cos of their hair

    also its funny ho wblack men can keep the Afro and its so cute…but imagine my male friend telling me he doesnt think he would like afro on women cos it would be hard to feel during sex (effect of ignorance or too much porn)..smh
    surely our parents and grandparents coped somehow?……the sad part is that we blacks look don on each other more than other race….light skinned vs dark…natural vs straight and so on ……I think the problem is that we have been brainwashed to say our hair is too strong/its hard to take care of and so on. which is ignorance on our part….i used to have that mentality but their many consultants and videos now to learn from ….whats you take out time to understand your hair and learn the suitable product for it ..your hair would be soft and easy ….even the whites have to use suitable products for their hair..

    i might be chatting shit to some …but yh if you wish to do whatever you want to your hair, thats fine but i wish Blacks would stop giving excuses like my hair is hard to maintain , its too strong , it can never grow long and so on…its just ignorance….(one of my peeves is seeing young kids especially 0-10 on weaves)

  • Tolu April 15, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Black people need to stop playing this victim, victim. It’s getting old, and white people are bored of it. If we are not that much represented in certain fields, whose fault is that? Go to Universities in the professional courses, how many black people apply? Go to the prison systems, gang bangers and co. Who dominates? It is the white man’s fault too that you have baby mama’s 4 kids, 3 fathers etc etc. White people are not that much represented in the world of rap and hip hop, or baseball and basketball and marathon running to name a few, you don’t see them making a big deal about it. Neither do you find black people trying to encourage white people to join such fields. People like Tiger Woods, Oprah, The Williams sisters, do they have two heads? Did affirmative action get them there? No, they worked their butts off and succeeded, so this whole lets feel sorry for ourselves or lets be outraged that black people are not represented in certain fields should go and sit down abeg. The world doesn’t owe you anything, neither is the world marginalising you because you are black. It’s all in your head, and people have passed on that BS from generation to generation. I certainly won’t pass that on to my children. If white people control the media, hollywood, big businesses, banks and co. Whose fault is that? White people too? I’m tired of this argument. If my son wants to become the next Dr Ben Carson, nothing will stop him. He will just have to work hard. Have we asked ourselves how come white children are so confident, they have this can do attitude? That’s because they are not carrying around this huge chip on their shoulders. We automatically play the victim, or assume that white people don’t expect us to do well. Oh her Prof was surprised. Did it occur to her that he thought her name was Italian, and he was surprised she was not? Since she’s black, she automaticaly assumed he was surprised a black person could write this well. That’s just prejudice to yourself. Yes there are some ignoramuses in the white population, but a lot of them are not like that. It is we black people that are still carrying on the flag that we are marginalised. We almost expect it, so of course subliminally we are already setting ourselves up to fail. Only a few people have learnt to rise above it. I’ve done very well in my career, I’m usually the only black person in the room, but I don’t see myself as that, I don’t even notice it. I see myself as a person first, not a “black” person. I don’t join all this black people sth sth club, or black pple in business sth sth, despite so many black colleagues imploring me to join. I see it as racist. If white people will not be allowed to form a whites only sth sth club, because it will be seen as racist, why should black people do so? We are the ones that are perpetuating this seggregation. Black people are more racist than white people you will find. Enter Kanye West. He thinks when a white person (e.g Taylor Swift) wins a Grammy where a black person was nominated, it is racial prejudice. Please, but when a black person wins in a category for rap or some other category, it is not racial prejudice.
    Point of correction. J.K Rowling sold the rights to the Harry Potter books but she was hands on from start to finish. She made sure that the actors were British. Who were Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson before Harry Potter? They were not tried and trusted or marketable, The movies made them who they are, so Chimamanda should go and sit down abeg, and stop taking the cop out hypocritical stand. Someone who is so so proud of her Nigerian roots and stuff and her African hair, yet uses extensions and lives in America, sister please. Want to fight the cause of black people, why don’t you come live amongst us first and joint he struggle from within. Don’t sit in your plush and comfortable lifestyle in America, and talk about being proud of what not, what not. P.S – I don’t really enjoy her books. Purple Hibiscus I didn’t finish, and Half of a Yellow Sun, I struggled to enjoy, but I didn’t go hey, I will support her because she’s Nigerian and she’s making waves in the literary world. She’s a person first to me, she could be Gambian for all I care. Sorry for the long write up, I just get pissed when this racial prejudice talk comes up

    • kelly April 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm

      I love you Tolu. That is all

    • nene April 15, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      you are on point. i think its mostly african americans, they still have slave mentality and they are afraid, but the fear comes across as pride. i don’t think nigerians or africans think that way (at least not most of the time).

    • Slice April 15, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      YOu lost me when you said “Someone who is so so proud of her Nigerian roots and stuff and her African hair, yet uses extensions and lives in America, sister please. She’s not any less African because she lives in America and she’s done for Africa that most people who live there. She’s put us on another part of the map and done a great job. Extensions….. ok sweety live the chick alone. And the only reason you think discrimination is not ongoing is cause your child has not experienced it yet. You think he can be a doctor and he probably will but the first day your child comes home to tell you some idiot white teacher gathered up the black kids in class and let them know they should try the technical route because they don’t have what it takes to succeed in the white collar jobs, you may start to understand why people complain so much

    • iCrossMyHeartBIGtIME April 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm

      I strongly disagree with you. There are some systems in place that no matter how hard you work, you cannot succeed. Oprah, Tiger Woods (who is only 25 per cent black), and the others you have mentioned are all EXCEPTIONAL cases. They are not the norm.

      Let me ask you, have you been to the ghettos in the US? Have you really lived there? Listen to their stories? Yes there are people that are lazy. But there are others working so hard to leave that place, but cannot.

      Racism is a generational thing. If one generation have experienced racism the magnitude of most African Americans, they will certainly pass it on. They have been told for centuries that they are not good enough, that they are subhumans. It will take some generations to erase that internalized hatred.
      I am glad you are confident in yourself and that you will not pass this “victimhood” to your children.

      I assume you are a woman. So women, like blacks, are victims too. No? Why should a woman cry rape, when her mates at their homes at 7pm about to go the bed and she decided to go out and party? You speak of affirmative action for blacks, don’t you know there have been affirmative action for women since the womens suffrage movement? And as a result of the fight created by women this, and women sth sth that, that you gained access to education? Do not trivialize someone’s struggle because you are not suffering. Because when you do suffer, people will call you out on your b.s

      Location does not question your roots. I can be a die hard Nigerian in Germany, doing a lot more for Nigeria than Nigerians in Nigeria. But I get where you are coming from and I agree with the other points you have made.

    • Chinazar April 15, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      I agree with you on almost all your points, except where u pressed ‘P’.
      Chimamanda Adichie’s writing is ALL THAT!!!

    • Moo April 19, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      Big Hug Tolu,SPOT ON

    • bebe April 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      i’m applauding!so so on point!

    • Pls educate yourself about the history of racial prejudice! April 30, 2013 at 5:37 am

      I usually don’t comment but I have to correct some very wrong assertions you made in your long write up. First, I am a Nigerian living in the states, and I used to have the same mentally you have about african americans playing the victim, but I dont feel that way anymore, especially since watching the CNN documentary ‘black in America” . if you were not born in the states Tolu, it will indeed be very hard for you to understand why blacks here are affected by the slave mentality. we Africans dont have it, or some of us dont have it because we were never subjected to racism or a colorist society. our south african brothers and sisters SURELY know a thing or two about prejudice, so my dear if you have not walked in their shoes… dont judge. Second, the reason why white kids are so confident is because of the structure they grow up in. if you are surrounded by successful people, it shapes your life and personality. But, most african americans dont have that luxury. I have a black friend who said the only reason she’s in graduate school is because she didnt want to end up like her parents (who are drug addicts). Imagine growing up in such an environment without any guidance from a responsible adult. A lot of kids born in Nigerian families here do great because of the kind of structure they have at home. so my dear, its not a cry baby victim thing, it is their reality. Third, on the part of chimmanmada saying her professor was surprised, I was shocked to see how dismissive you were about that. If you have ever been a student in any of the institutions here, then you will be able to relate to her statement. Correct me if I am wrong but if you have indeed been a student here and have not experienced racist or ignorant comments about your capabilities then you must have attended a school with the finest and most exposed professors in all of America. Fourth, you talk of affirmative action with appalling ignorance, if you have been to the slums and ghettos in America you will realize that public schools and the quality of education kids receive in these schools are completely impacted by where they live. Statistics has shown that blacks live in poorer neighborhoods and automatically get subjected to a poorer standard of education which lives an unfair playing ground against their white counterparts hence the need for affirmative action. In Nigeria, Northerners are given huge incentives to go to school, why are the same incentives not given to people from the south and the east where education is emphasized? Finally, I agree with you on the fact that SOME black people are more racist than the whites especially to Africans. I have experienced the most racism from some of my black sisters, thats why i too refused to join black law students association and the like. However, I dont feel those associations are racist because they are needed since blacks, asians, hispanics are the minorities in this country and not the whites.

    • mama May 4, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      u don’t enjoy her books who cares, u might be literary retarded for all we care…..we all don’t have to like all authors so that’s not a biggie, that doesn’t mean she aint good….

  • Opsy April 15, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I totally agree with you Tolu. Well marshalled points.

  • Retrochic April 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    this tolu girl freaking deserves an award

  • molarah April 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Please let’s take time to read the entire article in the link before we jump into conclusions. The actual thrust of the interview is not well captured in this excerpt.

  • Deolu April 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Just out of curiosity here, in the recent Articles I’ve read about her I noticed that they keep pointing out the fact that her husband is a Doctor? Could someone explain to me the necessity of that piece of Information?

    • chichi April 15, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      lol..who cares?? and why does that bother you??

  • ‘Mide April 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Lol @ Molarah…You guys no go kill persin he he he …computa no gree capture the ” thrust” of the article. O sure sha? Abeg, Tolu don talk true. Please leave Oyinbo man alone. After she don collect their half million dollars…na make Oyinbo cut im head give you? Please invite Taiye come here on her “Ghana Must Go” oh! Make we hear surgeon …surgeon ..surgeon…I don tire with this dad business of professor of statistics.

  • Speak Out April 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Tolu has said it all. She stole the words from my mouth!

  • nene April 15, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    chimamanda contradicts herself a lot.

  • O’Kel April 15, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Hmmm. At the end of the day aren’t we all hypocrites? It is very well to cast aspersion on certain aspects of the white man’s culture, but carefully step around some other areas. What we don’t like or use, we like to thrash, but for what we are interested in we exalt or find a way to pickle and store away for private consumption.
    Ok, let us remain true Africans, let us go back to wearing skins and living in thatch huts, it’s the African thing to do. We shouldn’t brush our mouths with paste or shave our armpits or drive in air conditioned cars, it would be approved as African, and I do hope body lotions and the such are no longer seen among our cosmetics (we shouldn’t even be using any). After all we have our own pure ‘ori’ and ‘abuba eke’ not to mention cam wood and co.
    Since change and being progressive is considered sucking up to the White man or elevating his culture above ours, let us in ALL THINGS go back to our ‘roots’.
    The truth is that I’m sickened by all this verbosity on display about how the white man is responsible for the perpetuation of the black man’s inability to realize it’s morning and get a life!
    The white man is responsible for the corruption in our land. It is his fault that we are selling our birthright by the acres and turning on each other in a bid to outdo the other in a display of ill-gotten wealth abi? And many other ‘nonesenses’, abeg make I continue my work o jare.

    • Yinka May 8, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      Thank you O’Kel for putting this across so well!

  • whocares April 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    I know colour has always been important, what with racism and all and to some extent i thought the light skinned/ dark skinned problem had reached a sort of resolution. but this morning my friend sent me a link in which the ministry of health had to inform people that Eku Eduwor (is that her name?) is mixed race and that was done to deter bleaching.. my point is when did it matter which shade of black a person is? the only thing that makes one lighter than the other is MELANIN or lack of it.. when did it become ok to call a dark skinned person serious, and insinuate that a light skinned person is a babe therefore unserious by implication? and why do most people think light people have it easier? I am fair skinned and i have gotten my share of kids singing oyinbo pepper when they see me pass, or my class mates in nigeria calling me : afin, epo pupa.. but you dare not call a dark skinned person well polished charcoal, you may start WW3. my point is all of it is not ok.. i always take my oyinbo pepper song in stride cos it amuses me, but i suppose things have gone way beyond kids singing songs to irritate me. .. light skinned is not more babicious (thats my word thank you very much. lol), than dark skinned, and being dark skinned does not make you more “serious” . This is soo much bs on so many levels i cant even articulate my thoughts. We seem to be going backwards, we are done with rascism and now we turn on ourselves. dark skinned people bleach their skin lighter to be babes, dark skinned babes show contempt at the light skinned ones because of course they have to be bleaching… at the end of the day, a book or movie is not going to teach us to be content in the castle of our own skin.. so whatever she does with her movie, its her prerogative..

    • iCrossMyHeartBIGtIME April 15, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      The reason why we are focused on dark-skinned vs. light-skinned is because we are not done with racism. We are far from it. And name calling you oyinbo (which is a height of admiration) is not the same as calling someone charcoal (is the bottomless pit of mockery).

      • whocares April 15, 2013 at 8:53 pm

        case in point of what i was talking about.. perception.. what makes you think it is ok to cal me oyinbo or that i like it or consider it admiration? you think it is something that should pacify me in the least because it inspires admiration, but what if me calling someone pearly charcoal is just that too? the fact that they are darkskinned and shine? either ways it is not right. you on the one hand should not think it is ok to call me names based on my complexion and neither should i. and you are right we are far from done with racism and thats why is it is sadder when we bicker amongst ourselves about colour issue as if the outside world has not done enough to us already!

    • Kola S April 30, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Just one point to rebut here, from experience, I would say dark skinned people are teased just as much. I remember jokes labellin gpeople as charcoal, or dissing them that you could only see their eyes and teeth in the dark etc.

  • Ngum April 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    This protest against Thandie Newton is the most hilarious thing! She’s outdone herself in every film of hers that I’ve seen (Beloved particularly stands out), and I have no doubt she can do it again. Btw, I think Olanna was described in the book as light skinned.
    It’s true that some times black people can cry foul too easily about racism but to say that it doesn’t exist is at best naive. As long as it’s institutionalised (segregration, bent justice systems, poor state funding of education in black areas etc etc), Chimamanda’s arguments will hold water.
    I have read Americanah and found it to be on point, nuanced and very funny. Totally recommended!

    • newbie May 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      As far as the protest is an attack on Chimamanda personally, then yes, it is misguided. She wrote a book, sold the rights and the buyer choses to interpret is as they see fit. So what? It happens all the time. No matter how good or bad the movie is, it will not take away from the brilliant book that half of a yellow sun is. In Chimamanda’s words, The book is hers, the film is Biyi’s. BUT, as far as making a believable movie based on the book is concerned- if that’s what Biyi Bandele set out to do- then Thandie Newton is not first choice for the lead female role. FACT. Acting is about make-believe; you’ve got to ‘make people believe’. Sorry, but she can’t pull it off.

  • The future is in our hands April 16, 2013 at 12:17 am

    I’m not going to get into the race argument, but I’ll say this. Voltrons can attack me, I couldn’t care less, but shame on you Chimamanda. The producers chose not to go with Nigerian leads, fine. Your comment was absolutely horrifying. Tried, tested, marketable. Really? For a writer, you sounded like one of the cast of Jersey Shore. There are ways you can could have wriggled out of it, especially as people have been waiting to hear your response on this issue. You just cast aside all the actresses from Nigeria, with a flippant and careless response. The kind of snobbery you would expect from a white person. So who is being written off now? Shey your Professor was surprised the best essay was from a black girl. For someone who says people don’t expect a black person to do well, you also perpetuated that garbage with your comment, and you wrote off the entire country of Nigeria, with that statement. No person can be found worthy of the movie, none is good enough. A book like Half of A Yellow Sun, that has defined modern literature from a Nigerian, and you couldn’t look beyond the pay cheque to showcase your roots, and finally show the world our story which should be told at least to some extent by us. I no blame you, you were Western trained, so all this your I am proud to be an African kini kan kini kan is just smokescreen to endear you to Africans. Coconut like you. Black outside, white inside. Pretender. This is not parapo mentality o, or famzing, nepotism, because she is a Nigerian, she must use a Nigerian talk, no. But it is absolutely sickening that Thandie plays Olanna, plus the other lead characters. J.K Rowling paved the way. At least Warner Bros is an American company. It was their money, their clout, but she insisted on a British cast. Harry Potter exploded the British Film industry, which had been tagging along behind Hollywood. Harry Potter shone a huge spotlight. It showed the world the cinematic magnificence that can come out of Britain, especially with 3 unknown kids and some veteran actors not many people outside of Britain knew about. It paved the way for shows like Downton Abbey and co to be much loved in America. Lots of British actors and actresses have the momentum created by Harry Potter to thank for their careers. See, a woman like you too, also a writer. I respect J.K Rowling 1million times for her literary skill and vision. White people always mange to show us up, yet we’ll have the guts to say they don’t respect us. They show us the way, yet we’ll still fall behind. See the casting of Les Miserables, the mix of British and American leads. Chimamanda is “supposed” to be respected too, unless her PR machine paints her to be more than she is, because how she could just take a back seat like this, boggles my mind. If she is so interested in showing the world great things can come out of Nigeria, this movie negates everything. She’s a huge hypocrite and pretender. She took the easy way out, don’t tell me it was impossible to have negotiated a contract that gave her some license, especially as this chance may never come again. She says she shuttles 9ja and the US often. A famous face or faces didn’t even have to be used. See the 3 Harry Potter Kids. See the cast of Twilight. Stephanie Myers was part of the casting decisions for Twilight and the artistic direction, albeit a silly movie, the box office numbers will disagree with me sha. The Author of 50 shades of Grey is also involved in casting Anna and Christian Grey. I know the crop of Nollywood truly aint all that, nevertheless, there is talent here, if you search for it. White people are better than us, they put their money where their mouth is, and champion their own people. Black people are just sell outs. Properly and Authentically casted and this movie could be nominated for Best Foreign Movie at the Oscars. Na so we dey miss chances o. She has collected her pay cheque she has chopped and cleaned mouth and gone to sleep. Posterity will never forgive you. SHAME ON YOU. You don’t need my money, I know, loads of people will buy your books, but me o, 1 cent of my money won’t go to your pocket. Let me go order my Harry Potter books collection and box set that i’ve been dragging my feet on since. Thank goodness the Half of a Yellow Sun i read, na borrow borrow, it for pain me say my money enter her pocket.

    • Ngum April 16, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      But Chiwetel Ejiofor and Genevieve Nnaji are in the film non? Surely there’s some Naija flavour in it. Plus, it’s a Biyi Bandele production.

    • Tunmi April 17, 2013 at 3:20 am

      I agree

    • Msunderstood April 17, 2013 at 3:47 am

      Well said, we just lost a big opportunity. And Chimamanda doesn’t see any big deal in it. Tan die isnt even a fantastic actress?

    • bebe April 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      God bless you. later people we say some people are hating. you just spoke my mind.

    • Kola S April 30, 2013 at 10:11 am

      If you read the interview quote objectively, you’ll see that she’s actually ambivalent about the choice of Thandie Newton.

    • We have actresses in Nigeria? May 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      We have actresses in Nigeria? I wasn’t aware of that. Surely you do not refer to those women on Africa Magic going through stiff unrealistic motions and reciting the most wooden dialogue without the slightest inflection of accurate emotion…

  • Stella Kashmoney April 16, 2013 at 11:08 am

    I love this woman. I can’t wait to read her latest novel.

  • just saying April 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Denzel Washington did not play the role of Edward Cullen, Kim Kardashian did not play the role of Bella Swan, Vin Diesel did not play the role of Idi Amin and Thandie Newton certainly should not be playing the role of Olanna or Kainene.

  • salsera April 30, 2013 at 12:22 am

    she’s the writer not the casting director. would we all have preferred olanna was nigerian and yet played the role badly. let the film come out first then we can judge the production, directing and acting

  • noway April 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    I like Chimamanda, however I just strongly wish she would STOP all this race/ hair is political talk,( what is politacal about the way my hair grows out of my head) seriously, I am chocolate and wear my hair naturally and my white friends do NOT give a hoot (I am not even sure they know what is up). Chimamanda, please stick to the literature and your excellence shall continue to shine the light in the darkness. Racism would ALWAYS exist, however if you pursue excellence in whatever you do, it would pay huge dividends and we can pave the way for the less priviledged by lending a helping hand along the way.

  • Emeka May 3, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Chimanda talk about all the inequalities, tribalism, nepotism and the rest going on in 9ja. The rich getting richer at the expense of the poor 9ja masses.

  • Toyin May 3, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    All I want to say is, Black people in general, starting from Africa, to the Caribbean to Central/South America, Europe, Asia to America, we are OUR OWN WORST ENEMY. We love to pat ourselves on the shoulder and talk about how Whites are our problem, play the race and victim card. When in reality, we refuse to address, accept our own downfall that has nothing to do with other race, irresponsibility and failure to develop, flourish as a group of people, let alone race. Before we point fingers at whites for not accepting us, we haven’t even accepted ourselves yet, still have identity issues/crisis. Asians are the least represented in the entertainment, fashion, music industry here, yet they don’t waste their time running their mouth or complaining(only in their homes). But, they’ve decided to do well for themselves, develop as a group, and as a country. Who cares if the most celebrated people on TV are lighter skin. First of all, who else will it be when majority of people in Europe and America are white/lighter skin. What about we focus on Nigeria, Africa where most of them are dark skin people, what are doing? What difference are we making? It’s like we are looking for white people’s validation, approval so bad and are putting high expectation on them, and it just doesn’t work that way. The solution, the responsibility, accountability and definitely the CHANGE of mindset and action is in our hands. I love Chimanda’s work, and she has the opportunity to prove otherwise, yet falls into the same thing she speaks against in her writings. So, who’s fault is it again?

  • Aloz Dwalim May 4, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Upon what on Chimamanda, are some people directing their criticism of this girl? Upon not a complete understanding of the full context of interview not a complete understanding of the nature of rights retained in selling of the rights her work or are these criticism informed by some other things other than what is reported here? She doesnt deserve some silly attacks coming from certain names and not on the bases of anything that anyone who has listened to her and knows her would recognise. Black people africans nigerians desist from that age old primitve hate that informs most of your reflections when dealing with certain people …….. some say I dont like her books and couldnt finish reading them …. who cares? Some claim she has opportunity of what…….charges her on things they dont understand. Other would seek to understand fully before attack but trust africans they always attack easily with little or no information so long as the source /name is known to them they dont care to be fully informed before attacking . Seek out the names that have nothing good to say about her…….. and upon what evidence you ask but wait until you pick out the commonality in the names then you will understand why she is being attacked on something there is not suffcient evidence coming from her.

  • Aloz Dwalim May 4, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Why cant people understand that in an interview you answer questions that are put to you why then would one insist of taking her on as if she raised subjects/issues? Why this unreasonable stance ?

  • Lola May 4, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Actually,if u read the whole interview by following the link,u wuld realise dat it was d interviewer who chipped in the ‘marketable’ part.dat said,adichie,in as much as olanna is light skinned,we have many light skinned nigerians who can act.another thin is this,if u really cared about nigeria as u claimed,u would av insisted on a contract where a nigerian wuld be d lead actress.then @tolu,some tins u said are true but most are way off.

  • lorenz May 6, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    una wey dey here get time oh! I don read, sotay my eyes don dey pepper me.

  • so who do you suggest? May 7, 2013 at 6:25 am

    Also, A question for all of you who think it should have been a Nigerian actress: Can you please name this world class Nigerian actress who should have been given/offered the part?

    • newbie May 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Sophie Okonedo would have made a very good Olanna, in my opinion. She is British-Nigerian, has shall I say, quite prominent African features even though mixed race, so she would have been believable as a fair ibo girl. She was brilliant in Hotel Rwanda, can do the generic Nigerian accent which I suppose Olanna would have had. Plus she’s got that feistiness…. my tuppence.

      For Kainene, Antonia Okonmah would have done a great job. Again, a dark skinned Nigerian actress raised an based in the UK, but with that unmistakable Nigerianness which I cannot explain, sorry. She played Charlene in ITV’s ‘Bad Girls’ for many years. A few years ago I saw her in a stage play, Iya Ile and OMG, she could have just been dropped on that stage from Lagos!

      I’m sure there are many other Nigerian actresses – they don’t necessarily have to be plying their trade in Nigeria to make the cut, or be big hollywood sensations either – the important thing being that they can act, are believable, look the part and would have done the film justice.

  • http://mytestimonys.blogspot.com/2013/05/god-made-billionaires.html May 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    i find her very cocky and arrogant, what does she mean by who’s markettable, i dont like the iboistic girl jo

    • newbie May 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      If you read the article without prejudice, you will actually find that the ‘marketable’ comment, your bugbear, is CLEARLY attributed to the interviwer, not Chimamanda.

  • JaneO May 9, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Chimanda is an authority in her field, has attained heights most of the negative commentators would not attain if they have ten live times to do so. The girl is well read from a good home, is married and doing very well with her life. I would love to have a sweet daughter her. I would love to see them hold an articulate and intelligent discuss her on our local channels, let alone hold their own in an international channel. When people critic, you critic objectively on the subject, what you like, what she could have done better in your opinion, not attack her person, family, husband etc. Small minds will always remain small. So people if you do not have an intelligent mind to review the subject, go somewhere and take a good nap, perhaps when you wake up from your slumber, you might yet see clearly and not have so much venom for a girl just fulfilling her calling. Chiamanda, you go girl! I rest my case.

  • L.A Chick May 10, 2013 at 7:05 am

    I am dark skinned, got hair as nappy as it can get, and I am a stunning babe. Enough of the dark-skinned v light-skinned debate, pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaassssssssssssseeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!! 🙁

  • justmii May 10, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Can I hear an OMG!!!!

  • Bee Arr May 10, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Why didn’t they cast Sophie Okonedo instead of Thandie Newton? At least she has Nigerian roots plus she’s an Oscar nominee?
    Also the dark skin/light skin look, we have been brainwashed to believe one is better than the other. What she said is right. There are very few actresses that have dark skin , and even musicians, and the thing is when you see them in real life, they are actually fairer skinned than they appear on tv. The first time I saw a clip of a TD Jakes sermon , I was shocked to see so many dark women, because looking at the TV alone you’d think all African American women are fair or mixed race. And even the ones that look dark skinned on TV, like Ashanti etc, if you pluck them and put them in a Naija setting, they would be classified as yellow! The media is ok to take on dark men, but not women.

  • just saying May 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    i think you all are taking things too seriously. Chimamanda…. I believe is a lovely writer and just because she lives in Americanah does not make her less of a Nigerian and does not mean she does not know Nigeria. She is not God. Her opinion is hers to share and not yours to abide by. If she aired hers doesn’t mean you should abuse, hate, insult her. If you don’t like hers air yours in a most respectful way. Just got a copy of the Americanah, i hope its beautiful, but if its not… i sure as hell will not curse her and her views. Miss or Mrs Tolu…. i think its sad that you feel the need to go that far……. She is HUMAN and has her rights. I am sure there are people who feel *not sooo good* about you or anything about you, they are not walking round Nigeria screaming, you are false and what not. Its necessary to respect other people and their opinions… Life goes round darling… someday you may do something just anything, as little as wearing your daughter a skirt and somneone will go ************** on you as you just did to another. It comes around darling. So…please for your heart’s sake watch… i have this deep feeling, if someone spoke about you like that you wld cry in your room…..Like i said its just a feeling. But feel free to take a jibe at me… trust me i expect nothing less from you…

  • Vanessa May 31, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I absolutely love Adichie’s book! Got really interested in her work after seeing her TED talk and except for “Purple Hibiscus”, I read all of her books. I have to say I was disappointed that they weren’t more African actresses in “Half of a Yellow Sun” but oh well, we’ll see how the movie turns out. “Americanah” was really amazing! The only things that made me put it down were work and sleep 🙂 The issues about race and hair are very valid, I recognized myself in some things that she said and disagreed with others. That doesn’t make her any less talented! All the best to Adichie and already looking forward to her next book!

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