Corbin Bleu Talks About Growing Up Biracial And The 'Token Black' Role In Hollywood (VIDEO)

02/03/2014 08:00 am ET | Updated Feb 04, 2014
  • OWN

Before "High School Musical" star Corbin Bleu became a teenage heartthrob at age 16, he was a young boy who found himself targeted by bullies who didn't understand him. From Bleu's love of ballet and tap to his mixed race, the now-24-year-old entertainer struggled with feeling misunderstood by his peers. His race, especially, was a question among other children.

"The whole bullying thing is a very important thing for me," he says on an episode of "Oprah: Where Are They Now?". "I remember growing up and having so many kids ask, 'Wait, so what are you?'"

Upon learning that Bleu's mother is white, other kids became confused. To Bleu, there was -- and is -- nothing complicated about his heritage. "I identify with my Italian culture, I identify with my Jamaican culture," Bleu says.

The rest of the world, however, doesn't always see the actor as biracial. "Of course, in society, I am considered 'black,'" Bleu says.

Bleu says he saw this same mentality in his professional life as well. "Even in the industry, it drives me crazy that you need to have the 'token black' or it needs to be a project that's just all-black," he says.

Now in an interracial relationship (with actress Sasha Clements), Bleu is hopeful things will change. "I want us to get to a point that you don't see the colors anymore. We're all going to be beige," he says with a laugh.

"Oprah: Where Are They Now?" airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.

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