Ashley Madekwe has had her fair share of television roles. She's played Marissa Delfina on "The Beautiful Life," Bambi on "Secret Diary of a Call Girl," Ashley Davenport on "Revenge" and is currently starring as Tituba on WGN America's "Salem." But the 31-year-old, who is of Swiss, Nigerian and English descent, says she finds it very difficult to get the chance to play lead roles as a woman of color in Hollywood.
"It’s difficult for everyone. I’m sure all actors struggle; we all want more jobs. As a woman of color, I think I find it even more difficult," Madekwe explained during a Q&A with The Huffington Post on AOL Build Thursday. "I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a script and I’m the sidekick or the friend, or where I think I’m going to have a great part and I end up just being the sidekick, as in ‘Revenge.’ I think I’m lucky in ‘Salem.’ I have great stuff to do, but even then I will challenge the writers and be like, ‘Listen, it’s been two episodes and I’ve just been, like, holding a candle next to Mary [Janet Montgomery]. Stop it.’ And, I feel like I have to do that."
Although there are dozens of multiracial characters on the small screen these days, Madekwe hopes that diversity on television won't just be a trend.
"TV is conquering [diversity] more than film, but I will say this about television: it’s all about trends," she said. "Do you remember a few years ago when there was nothing but vampire shows on TV? Because those were what people were watching, so TV networks said, ‘Oh great, vampires sell.’ Now, diversity is selling, so that’s what we’re getting more of, which is great for me and other ethnic actors, too."
"It’s a great time for strong women of color in television, definitely," Madekwe added, "And it’s great that they’re not like teenagers either. These are real women. I mean, I'm obsessed with 'Scandal,' I love 'How to Get Away with Murder,' 'Empire' ... Who doesn’t want to be Cookie?!"