‘Stargirl’ Actor and MCU Alum Anjelika Washington Opens Up About Using Blackface Stunt Doubles

A new generation of superheroes has arrived. The CW television series, Stargirlfollows the adventures of a group of teens that use their superpowers to battle the villains of the past.

Anjelika Washington, who plays the role of Beth Chapel, recently opened up to her fans on Instagram to discuss some past personal battles she has had to face working in the film industry. Washington spoke out about her experience of being a young person of color (POC) in Hollywood, and the racism she has had to endure.

The 22-year-old actress candidly explained how back in 2017 she was manipulated into believing that she had to be “grateful” for having the chance to work. Washington remembers thinking, “No one can know that I have a stunt double in blackface.”

Anjelika Washington smiling, turned to the camera
Anjelika Washington | JC Olivera/Getty Images

Anjelika Washington

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3 weeks

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Washington became interested in acting as a junior in high school. In 2014, she landed her first role in an episode of the television series, Dating Pains. She has worked on numerous film and television projects since that time, with walk-on roles on Young Sheldon and Marvel’s The Runaways. Her role as Fareeda in Netflix’s Tall Girl has earned Washington high acclaim.

Working on Stargirl is a dream come true for the hard-working actress. In a recent interview with Collider, she stated, “Not every actor gets to have a job like this, so I’m really, really grateful that I do, and I hope that I get to keep doing it for many seasons.”

‘Stargirl’

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Stargirl is a superhero drama television series that premiered on the DC Universe in May 2020. The story follows the trials and tribulations of teen high school student turned superhero Courtney Whitmore. Her discovery of a cosmic staff inspires a new generation of superheroes known as the Justice Society of America (JSA).

After the first 13 episodes were met with great success, The CW picked up the popular series for another season. Stargirl will move to the CW network as an original series. Based on the DC Comics, Washington’s character is known as Beth Chapel, aka Doctor Mid-Nite. She is a friend to Courtney and a prominent member of the newly formed JSA. The nerdy superhero has enhanced night vision and spends a lot of time trying to figure out what she’s doing.

Using blackface stunt doubles

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Flashback to 2017. My 4th job as an actor, my first recurring guest star, and my first time having a stunt double— and they painted her black. I was very uncomfortable (as anyone would be to meet your double in blackface) so I spoke up for myself, I pulled one of our producers aside and asked “Why isn’t my stunt double black like me? Isn’t that the point of a “double?” She responded “Sure. But we couldn’t find a black stunt double in LA. Los Angeles doesn’t have many black stunt performers. But aren’t you happy to be working? You should be thankful to be here.” ….I immediately started to question myself: “Do I sound ungrateful? Am I complaining? Maybe this is just how it is?” So I said “okay.”, I sat down in my chair, shut up, and tried to think positive thoughts. (Hence my smile in this photo) But really, I felt powerless, voiceless, and somehow ungrateful…. Anyone who knows me knows that “grateful” is one of my favorite words and feelings. So in this moment I felt like somehow I was in the wrong for speaking up for myself. But NO, she was wrong. See, there’s this oppressive thing that often happens when everyone and everything are ran by white people on sets (and in any industry) where they try to manipulate POC into just being GRATEFUL to be there. They do this to us because they know that they *literally* run the show. They feel like a savior for giving a young black girl a role in their show, even though most times it’s just to check a box. They often don’t check to see if we are comfortable with what they are asking of us, they often call us unprofessional or a diva for advocating for ourselves, and most times they get away with paying us wayyy less than our costars…. This is why being inclusive and hiring POC in front of the camera and behind it, is extremely imperative. Luckily for me, I kicked ass in my action scenes and my stunt double wasn’t even used. But the thing is, the whole time I kept telling myself “I have to be great. No, I have to be better than great. I have to be so amazing that they don’t need her. No one can know that I have a stunt double in blackface.” **more to the story: Rest in comments**

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In Washington’s recent Instagram post, she refers to her “4th job as an actor.” According to her IMDb listing, this would likely be her recurring role as a lacrosse player on the television series Versus. It’s most likely in this series that she faced the issue of using a blackface stunt double.

The charismatic actress explained that she was shocked to learn that her first-ever stunt double was “painted black.” She was very uncomfortable and asked a producer, “Why isn’t my stunt double black like me? Isn’t that the point of a ‘double?'” The producer told Washington, “We couldn’t find a black stunt double in LA. Los Angeles doesn’t have many black stunt performers. But aren’t you happy to be working? You should be thankful to be here,” according to NY Daily News.

Not wanting to cause trouble, Washington explained, “I sat down in my chair, shut up, and tried to think positive thoughts.” She says she “felt powerless, voiceless, and somehow ungrateful.” Doctor Mid-Nite now realizes that she was not wrong for speaking up for herself and that the producer was the one who was wrong.

Washington says that she didn’t want to be associated with having a blackface stunt double, so she worked extra hard to perform her own stunts. Her efforts paid off, and the double was never used. This type of blatant racism is problematic not only because of the use of blackface but because it takes an opportunity away from black stunt performers. 

The Black Lives Matter supporter continued by saying, “None of it is okay. I have always spoken up for myself, but on this day, I allowed someone else’s low value of me to override my high value of me.”