Nia Long said she didn’t get one of the lead ‘Charlie’s Angels’ roles because she ‘looked too old’ opposite Drew Barrymore

Nia Long. Greg Campbell/Getty
  • Actress Nia Long told Insider about her experience auditioning for the 2000 movie “Charlie’s Angels.”
  • She said her agent told her she didn’t get the role of Alex Munday, one of the Angels, because she “looked too old” opposite costar Drew Barrymore.
  • Previously, actress Thandie Newton said she turned down the Alex Munday role in the movie because the vision of the character was sexist and racist.
  • Long told Insider she personally believes the reason she was given for not getting the role was a nice way of saying she’s too Black for the part.
  • Long is four years older than Barrymore. The role went to Lucy Liu, who is two years older than Long.
  • Read our entire interview with Long.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On the heels of Thandie Newton’s explosive reveal that she turned down one of the lead roles in “Charlie’s Angels” because the vision of the character was sexist and racist, actress Nia Long is now speaking out about her own troubled experience going out for the same role on that movie.

Long told Insider on Wednesday in an interview for her upcoming Netflix movie, “Fatal Affair” (available Thursday), that she was told by her agent that she didn’t get the role of Alex Munday, one of the leads in the 2000 version of “Charlie’s Angels,” because she “looked too old” to play opposite costar Drew Barrymore (who is four years younger than Long).

“I was like, “What?” Long told Insider. “I love Drew Barrymore, I think she’s amazing, but I think that was just a nice way to say you’re a little too Black. Personally, that’s what I think. Because if you notice there were no brown skin [actors]. I mean, honestly, I would have been the blackest thing in the film.”

The Alex Munday role eventually went to Lucy Liu, who is two years older than Long.

“The feedback that I received from my agent was, ‘She just looked too old and sophisticated to be next to Drew Barrymore,'” Long went on to say.

“And I’m thinking to myself, it’s an actor’s choice to walk in the room how they want to look, but it’s a director’s vision to help create and curate a character. So if you couldn’t see beyond the fact that I had on a blazer and a pair of jeans then that was clearly not the job and opportunity for me. So, no problem, I’ll keep it moving.”

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(L-R) Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, and Drew Barrymore in 2000’s ‘Charlie’s Angels.’ Columbia Pictures

Long, who previous to the “Charlie’s Angels” audition was known for her roles in movies like “Boyz n the Hood,” “Friday,” and the romantic lead opposite Will Smith on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” went on to star opposite Martin Lawrence in the successful comedy “Big Momma’s House” in 2000.

In a Vulture interview, Newton spoke out about the objectifying and racist comments the “Charlie’s Angels” director, McG, and the movie’s studio head, Amy Pascal, said to her.

“One of the biggest movies I didn’t end up doing was because the director said to me, ‘I can’t wait for this. The first shot is going to be … You’re going to think it’s like yellow lines down a road, and you pull back and you realise it’s the stitching, because the denim is so tight on your arse it’s going to look like tarmac.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think we’re going to go down this road together,'” Newton said of McG’s comments to her.

Newton then said Pascal wanted her to turn the character into more of a Black stereotype.

“I had a meeting with her, and she said, ‘Look, I don’t mean to be politically incorrect, but the character as written and you playing the role, I just feel like we’ve got to make sure that it’s believable,'” Newton said. “I was like, ‘What do you mean? What changes would you have to make?'”

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Nia Long in 2000’s ‘Big Momma’s House.’ Fox

“She’s like, ‘Well, you know, the character, as written, she’s been to university and is educated,'” Newton continued.

“I’m like, ‘I’ve been to university. I went to Cambridge.’ She went, ‘Yeah, but you’re different.’ She’s like, ‘Maybe there could be a scene where you’re in a bar and she gets up on a table and starts shaking her booty.’ She’s basically reeling off these stereotypes of how to be more convincing as a Black character.”

Long told Insider that she was aware of the comments Newton made of the “Charlie’s Angels” casting and is proud more women, especially women of colour, are speaking out about their experiences in Hollywood.

“Fatal Affair” marks Long’s first time as a producer, and said being a decision-maker gave her the ability to tell the story in the most authentic way possible. Something she was not able to do in the past.

“I don’t want to be any part of a project where I feel like I’m the token Black,” Long said.

“I’ve been there and done that and I’m not doing that anymore. Now it has to be about the material and the story that we’re telling and I want to elevate the material and stories that we’re telling. Thank you Netflix for the opportunity to allow me to gain the confidence to know that I can do this and I will do more.”

Read our full Nia Long interview