Ever since Halle Berry was cast as Storm in 2000’s X-Men, there has been controversy on how the comic book legend was portrayed on the big screen. For years, fans said it should have been Angela Bassett or an actress with a bit more melanin. As recently as March, a Medium.com article defended Berry as Storm. However, a younger version of Storm hit theaters in 2016 with X-Men: Apocalypse, and this time Alexandra Shipp brought the African queen to life. Many on Twitter raged that Shipp was also too light-skinned — the actress is now responding, and she isn’t holding back.
Just a little background on Storm: she is one of the most iconic comic book characters in history. She was born Ororo Munroe and raised in Harlem and Cairo. Her mother was a tribal princess from Kenya, and her father was a photojournalist. She was orphaned as a child after her parents were killed during the Arab–Israeli conflict. After meeting Professor X, she joined the X-Men. She also married Black Panther and was queen consort of Wakanda during their marriage.
With all of these details — does this mean Storm should be browner than Berry and Shipp? Shipp says no.
In an interview with Glamour, the actress said, “[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. 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.” She continued, “This conversation about Storm is so stupid, I’m out…. If I lose my job to another actress, I hope it’s for her talent and grace, not her skin [color]. 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.'”
She also added, “I’m not playing Harriet Tubman with a prosthetic nose and darkening my skin tone. I would never do that.”
The debate might be more applicable to the studio, rather than the actress. In addition, because Storm is a fictional character, should she be wrapped up in the debate of colorism in Hollywood? Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone was deeply problematic, and even Simone’s family was outraged. It’s also no secret that darker actresses in Hollywood have less access to roles, but we should be careful hating on Shipp who landed a huge part.
As far as Angela Bassett playing Storm, the writer of the first two films told The Hollywood Reporter Bassett was the first choice, but her agents wanted more money than what they could afford at the time. Bassett isn’t hurting, she was in Black Panther. Wakanda and Storm forever!
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