One of the better highlights in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse was the reintroduction of who are generally considered the “core” X-Men, at least this side of Wolverine: Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops, and Alexandra Shipp as Storm, the Weather Goddess herself. At the time, Shipp considered it a dream part and presumably still does as she heads into taking center stage with the other two younger versions of the key X-Men in next February’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix. However, Shipp is also aware of a vocal criticism of her casting that has nothing to do with her acting.
Following speculation amongst fandom that Storm might be recast again if/when the X-Men are integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a post Disney-Fox deal world, some particularly virulent fanboys took to challenging Ms. Shipp on social media. There they stated Shipp was always miscast as Storm due to the color of her skin being allegedly too light. (The character is half-Kenyan and half-American in the comics.) Shipp ignored what is probably PR protocol by responding at the time online, and she is now opening up about why she did so in her latest interview with Glamour magazine.
Speaking about having a moment after critically well-received work in Straight Outta Compton and Love, Simon, Shipp opened up about the moment she pushed back against online trolls who’d question her blackness, as well as the need for female celebrities to be more politically open on social media.
“[I tweeted back] at people who criticized me for not having dark enough skin for my role in X-Men,because we’re not going to have this conversation about a cartoon character,” Shipp told Glamour. “You’re not going to tell me that my skin color doesn’t match a Crayola from 1970. Growing up, when I was reading the comics, I pictured her looking like me. For any black girl, for there to be a black superhero, we picture them looking like us. So when I auditioned for the role, I wasn’t like, ‘Oh man, I’m not dark enough.’ I was like, ‘Finally, this is my moment.’”
Shipp also notes that a line should be drawn between the questioning of skin tones for fictional characters—especially of the comic book variety—and historic figure. Hence her adding, “I’m not playing Harriet Tubman with a prosthetic nose and darkening my skin tone. I would never do that.”
Her statements, which come more from a place of more than justified frustration with the commodification of not only her blackness, but her hue of it, are in line with her consideration that male actors (including those who play other superheroes) can be much more politically active in their online lives than actresses. After all, half the Avengers performers made a public service announcement before the 2016 U.S. election pleading with American voters to not let Donald Trump become the 45th President of the United States… and while they clearly failed, it didn’t dent any of their careers either.
Says Shipp, “Male actors have always been able to be way more opinionated when it comes to politics. As actresses, we only get to do things like help the hungry children. Take Angelina Jolie. She’s political in her actions, but you don’t know her opinion on Trump. I think people should speak their truth. I don’t give a fuck. I’m me. I’m exactly who I want to be every single day.”