Why Fans Are Pissed at the Casting Choices for the Upcoming Salt-N-Pepa Biopic on Lifetime

As the intro to their legendary song says, Salt-N-Pepa’s here! The group rose to prominence in the late 1980s and put female rappers on the map with their unapologetic lyrics about men, sex, and female empowerment. They famously refused to attend the Grammys when they took a stand after rap was excluded from the category list. Their story will be brought to the small screen in Lifetime original biopic series next year.

Salt-N-Pepa
Salt-N-Pepa 1988 | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Fans are excited that Salt-N-Pepa are getting their just due but are pissed about the actors who were hired to play the members. Fans are chalking up the casting selections to a larger issue around colorism in Hollywood.

Salt-N-Pepa biopic to premiere on Lifetime

Last year, Lifetime announced their plans for a Salt-N-Pepa limited biopic miniseries. The film promises to chronicle the group’s rise in the hip hop industry as pioneers for women who rap. The series will also examine their friendship between the group members and how relationships were put to the test by their careers.

Salt-N-Pepa
Salt-N-Pepa 1988 | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The film hasn’t settled on a title as of yet but the main cast has been revealed. The untitled series will include G.G. Townson as Cheryl “Salt” James, Laila Odom as Sandra “Pepa” Denton, and Monique Paul as DJ Deidra Roper aka DJ Spinderella.

Sony Pictures Television is producing the film and it’s being directed by Mario Van Peebles. Both Cheryl James and Sandra Denton are executive producers, with Shakim Compere and Queen Latifah as co-executive producers. DJ Spinderella isn’t involved in the film at all due to an ongoing lawsuit between her and her former group members.

Why fans are mad about casting for the Salt-N-Pepa biopic

Shadow and Act revealed the cast list of the three actors selected to star as Salt, Pepa, and Spinderella from the group. Fans immediately took to Twitter to express their shock and concern as all of the women cast are a lighter skin competition, despite the members of the group varying in shade.

“WTH! They look NOTHING like them at all,” wrote one commentator with a shocked face emoji. “Colorism at its finest.”

Source: Twitter

“Why they cast these light skin womenz for this new Salt N Pepa Lifetime movie?,” asked one fan. 

Source: Twitter

Another took a shot directly towards casting directors, writing, “Sooo….I guess the good thing is that movies about African Americans are being made… The problem is the casting directors in charge apparently feel we all look alike.”

Source: Twitter

Pepa says her daughter auditioned to play her in the Salt-N-Pepa biopic but wasn’t selected

An obvious choice for many fans would be to cast Pepa’s daughter, Egypt, to play her on the show. Though they are aren’t the exact skin completion, they favor one another. Pepa appeared with Egypt on The Real and revealed that Egypt did audition for the role as her mom but wasn’t selected. 

Source: Instagram

Pepa: Well, Egypt did audition for the role to play me and…

Egypt: And so, everything has to be perfect. So, I didn’t get to play her but I am still in the movie.

Pepa: But let me tell you the funny thing, when I was prepping her to play me, I was like practicing with her, ‘This is what I did then. This is how it happened.’ Because it was my story. When she went for the audition because you know I’m going to let her go through the whole story. She came back out like, ‘Mom, everything you taught me was wrong.’

It’s unclear why Egypt wasn’t selected, especially if her mother spent time showing her how to beat emulate her. It would appear that Pepa would know herself better than anyone else but Lifetime believes otherwise. 

The series will air on Lifetime in 2020.