The world of entertainment may look glamorous and tempting from the outside, but according to the many insider stories that have been exposed over time, it can be brutal and unforgiving. Speaking out against injustice, demanding a fair wage or refusing to be controlled by beneficiaries can hurt one’s career, especially if you’re of a “minority” group — gender, race, age, etc. 

From Kenyan comedian, Elsa Majimbo, to iconic Nollywood actress, Joke Silva, here are some of the black women who’ve fought against being banned from the global entertainment industry by some of the most recognisable names.

The Kenyan comedian and content creator recently set the internet abuzz after she name-dropped international supermodel, Naomi Campbell, and accused her of getting her blackballed from Hollywood. Apparently, Naomi shared a documentary idea with Elsa when they first met in 2021. Fast forward to 2022, Elsa released a documentary, and Naomi wasn’t pleased she’d seemingly executed her idea without involving her. Naomi eventually cut ties with her. “Things started going very badly for me. I thought it was because of the situation [with Naomi], but I wanted to be sure,” Elsa said in a TikTok video. She tried to reach Naomi afterwards, but Elsa realised it was a lost cause when the supermodel told her to stop contacting her. 

The content creator admits that speaking about the Naomi situation was “hard and scary” but “she doesn’t want to be owned by someone else”.

Mo’ Nique

In 2010, Hollywood actress and comedian, Mo’Nique clinched her first Oscar Award for the film, Precious. While the win should’ve marked the beginning of a successful career, Mo’Nique largely retreated from Hollywood afterward. During a recent appearance on Club Shay Shay, she doubled down on the age-old rumours that producers, Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey, were responsible for getting her in Hollywood’s black book. She said the duo had her blackballed over her refusal to promote the movie for free, and not acknowledging them in her Oscars acceptance speech. Mo’Nique claimed she had an audio recording of Perry admitting that he told people she was difficult to work with.

Joke Silva

With a career that spans more than three decades, iconic actress Joke Silva also suffered consequences for standing up against the powers that be in the entertainment industry. In a 2021 interview, the actress recounted her experience with a major marketer who wanted her on his project. Things didn’t go according to schedule due to poor time management on the part of the film owners. She gave an extra two days grace period after her two weeks contract had expired, then she walked off the set. “The marketer was big at that time. Because of that, I was secretly blacklisted for quite a while. Mine was never mentioned, but it was done.”

Taraji P Henson

In late 2023, during media rounds for the musical remake of The Color Purple, Oscar and Emmy-nominated actress, Taraji P. Henson, ruffled feathers in the industry after calling out Hollywood for underpaying Black actresses. Taraji’s timing got people wondering if she was indirectly calling out Oprah, who had a similar fall out with Mo’Nique. However, the actress returned with an Instagram post noting that Oprah treated her fairly. Thankfully, unlike Mo’Nique, who got little to no support from colleagues, actresses like Octavia Spencer, Gabrielle Union, Viola Davis and Keke Palmer supported Henson.

Adunni Ade

Similar to Hollywood’s Mo’Nique, Adunni Ade’s career took a nosedive after the AMVCAs nominated her for Best Supporting Actress in 2017. In a 2021 interview, the actress said she was blacklisted from the English-speaking faction of Nollywood right after the AMVCA nomination. “I might be wrong that I was outcasted out of the English industry. I won’t say 100% but I’ve had jobs taken away from me, colleagues who have now become big names yank my name off or make lies to producers and EPs on reasons why they should not give me a job.” The actress self-funded her movie, Soole, in 2021.

Janet Jackson

Her collaborative Super Bowl Halftime performance with Justin Timberlake in 2004 did more harm than good to her career. Jackson received heavy backlash for a wardrobe malfunction that exposed a nipple during her performance. After the incident, she was banned from MTV and many radio stations refused to play her music. However, due to her undeniable talent, Jackson managed to keep her career going.

Rita Dominic

The Nollywood actress’ evolution to a producer didn’t come without its struggle. In 2021, Dominic revealed that she was “silently blacklisted” in Nollywood. Some colleagues in the industry didn’t like the idea of the actress moving out of her comfort zone and starting her own production company. “At some point in my career, I wanted to evolve and do different things. The people we used to work with a lot then didn’t understand that—more like they couldn’t be bothered. So I wasn’t getting work. I was blacklisted silently.” Refusing to stay beat, Dominic proceeded with the Audrey Silva Company and released her first film, The Meeting, in 2012. Dominic’s production house also produced the 2021 thriller, La Femme Anjola.

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