If there’s one thing Amanda Seales is going to do, she’s going to talk about race and cares nothing about how it impacts white fragility. And that’s exactly what she’s doing in the new Showtime docuseries, everything’s gonna be all white.
The three-part Showtime project takes a look at race in America from a historical perspective unlike ever before, featuring honest and provocative commentary about the history of racial identity, to the generational effects of racism on housing, education and healthcare, and so much more.
Seales, who has made such discussions her life work, is just one of the contributors to the special. The series is directed by Emmy nominee Sacha Jenkins and first part airs Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. EST.
In an in-depth discussion with Shadow and Act, Seales delved into why she had to participate, and how her daily personal and professional experiences have made her realize just how much more race needs to be part of the ongoing discussion.
The 'Insecure' star says the special comes at a time when more of our history is at risk of being silenced and rewritten.
Seales signed on to do the project not just because she enjoys talking about such topics, but also because of who is attached to the series. She feels it’s necessary for both Black and non-Black viewers to watch.
“I think it’s important for Black viewers to watch, namely because we must admit that we are not a monolith and there are a lot of Black folks that are coming from that are coming at race from many different approaches,” she told us. “And I think it really creates a very clear bottom line to the way that we have been brainwashed by these white lies. And that’s really what the premise of this series is. It’s really about debunking these mythologies rooted in white supremacy, and a lot of us as black folks don’t even realize how many of these we perpetuate…And then when it comes to white folks, it’s we are watching the actual lawmaking around white tears, they’re literally making white tears admissible in court as a way to silence the truth. So this is a very powerful stand against the erasure of what this country really has done in the past in the present and will continue to do in the future if we don’t keep talking about it. You know, once they start burning books and banning books, you got to know that they come in for media.”
The actress comedian and activist says walking in her truth helps her ignore the critics.
Seales is often criticized by many, including from those within our community who feel her methods deter from her message and that the continuous conversation is overkill.
Though it’s been difficult at times for her to grasp the criticism, it hasn’t stopped her from speaking out.
She explained, “When you’re called to purpose, it’s very difficult to pivot to something else when you really know ‘This is where I’m supposed to be.’ I feel like if I don’t say something, then you know, I haven’t done my part in change and pushing change in the right direction. I just don’t want to be here being pointless. And for me, I feel like my purpose is that I’ve been given a voice and I have an uncanny ability to articulate things, or at least that’s what I’ve been told. And so if I’m not doing that, then it’s kind of like, Well, what am I doing? I could have played this game differently. I could have just been out here smiling and looking real cute in little outfits and done my work and went home – and there would have been nothing wrong with that. But that just wasn’t my calling. And I’ve gone to a lot of therapy to come to understand that part of my role as a thought leader is being very thoughtful about how I speak and how I move, and knowing that when I do speak and move, it’s never out of just randomness. It’s never with an ulterior motive.”
Many were thrilled when Seales signed on to be a co-host of The Real, feeling that she would bring a lot to the show.
Within six months, Seales had enough and cited censorship as one of the reasons for exiting the daytime talk show.
“As my mother always says, ‘You take their money, you take their sh**t.’ So when you are in certain spaces, there are certain lines that cannot be crossed,” she said. “They don’t tell you like, ‘This line, right, here – you can’t cross this line,’ Because they’re like, ‘Be yourself. Say what you want to say. We need your voices. But don’t say that. Don’t say that.’ And it’s not just talking about race. That comes in talking about abortion. That comes in talking about class. There are just these pockets of conversation that are considered off-limits, but they are huge parts of what’s going on in our society. And they are very important topics if not addressed, people are unaware that they are decisions that are being made about their lives. But when you talk about these things, you get rained on.”
This also doesn’t just apply to her experience on the talk show, but how people who speak truth to power are treated on social media.
“Instagram is always banning folks. There are people that are going to make it their sole purpose to try to shut you up because it’s annoying, it’s an inconvenient truth. So you also have to know that it can go even deeper than that. I’ve had death threats. I’ve had people show up at shows. When I was on The Real, I would get all types of racist comments in my DMs on the actual show’s page. And it was very taxing. But what was really taxing was the lack of protection that the network was giving me against that. And so it’s like you always have to know that when you’re creating a platform for someone to speak in this way they are going to draw ire. But you, as the person who’s speaking, just want the protection of the folks that brought you here. And so I think that’s the tandem that has to happen.”
Seales created 'Smart, Funny and Black' to highlight Black American culture
Despite how messed up Black life in America can be and dealing with never been given a head start in this country, there’s a specific type of pride that comes with being a Black American that isn’t always spotlighted. Seales created a live game show and immersive experience in Smart, Funny and Black that incorporates history, comedy, music, and everything else one can think of.
“The show, it allows me to not only bring my talents down into one place where I get to utilize my intellect around Black culture and also get to sing,” she added. “We get to laugh about all the inside jokes that are just specific to the Black community. But we also get to teach because there are so many folks that really don’t believe that Black American culture is a shared experience. They don’t believe that we have a very robust culture of our own. And though we are part of the Diaspora, there is a very unique experience to being black here in America. And we want to uplift that.”
Watch the rest of the interview where Seales speaks more about the significance of the special, pushing through her purpose amid her outspoken critics, how people like her have to fight against censorship, how her brand Smart Funny, and Black helps celebrate and promotes Blackness in a way that hasn’t been done before.