Editor’s note: This story has been updated since its initial publication to reference and cite Amber Phillips’ original viral video
HBO has responded to a viral video of a former Lovecraft Country extra admitting that they were put in darker makeup to match one of the series’ cast members.
Kelli Amirah, who worked as an extra on the show, released a TikTok video explaining how the makeup team darkened her skin to make her look more like an older actress on the show. Amirah’s darkened image can be seen in a prop wedding photo in a brief scene. Amirah is much lighter than the actress she was portraying, and she recalled how she realized her skin was turning darker as she sat in the makeup chair.
Amirah’s video gained traction and notice after it was reposted with commentary by Amber Phillips. Her post went viral on Instagram. “All it took was a little bit of special treatment and some good snacks for EVERYONE to be ok with manufacturing a dark skin Black woman and it continues to make me sick,” she wrote on Instagram. “Even a show about the horrors of racism in America didn’t stop them from being horrific. This example comes from @lovecrafthbo. But we know this is a norm for Black spaces that refuse to acknowledge racism through the lens of the people most impacted by it. Colorism AND fatphobia needs to be more important to Black people who are telling Black stories and working on behalf of Black people.”
Being forced to hear about colorism directly from a fat dark skinned Black person is new for some of y’all. So here’s the video that I uploaded on my IG on Wednesday about Blackface on @LovecraftHBO and colorism in “radical” Black political spaces. 1/5 pic.twitter.com/1H1PzZMSzn
— Amber J. Phillips (@AmberAbundance) March 7, 2021
After learning of the incident, HBO has said that it was “very disappointed” to hear about Amirah’s experience, and added that it is ensuring that such an offensive decision will never occur again.
“This should not have happened, and we are taking steps to ensure this doesn’t occur again in the future,” HBO told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement.
After Phillips’ post went viral, Amirah addressed criticisms of her participation in blackface on Twitter.