Light Girls hopes to spark conversation about ‘colorism’ in Black community

Stephanie Frederic

Stephanie Frederic

Bill Duke’s 2011 documentary Dark Girls sparked a much-needed conversation within the Black community about the issues of colorism and its impact on how we interact with each other. Now, in an effort to show that there are two sides to every story, the filmmaker is offering up a sequel to the documentary that sheds light on the pain, misperceptions and privileges that light-skinned Black women face.

To help with the production of this documentary, Duke tapped award-winning broadcast journalist and owner of FGW Productions & Transmedia, Stephanie Frederic to help him properly tell the stories of women who’ve faced discrimination for being of a lighter complexion.

Even if you have never heard of Stephanie Frederic, chances are you’ve seen her work. Frederic, a 20-year veteran of the film industry, has made a name for herself as the African American owner of a production company that specifically markets to communities of color. As the founder and executive producer of FGW Productions, Frederic shoots, writes, edits and produces trailers, DVD extras and other video projects for Hollywood films, including Ride Along, The Best Man Holiday and The Princess and the Frog. She has also done work for awards shows like the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.

Frederic is considered a pioneer in her field—a view that her most recent project, the documentary Light Girls, is likely to reinforce. Frederic serves as producer for the film, a sequel to 2011’s Dark Girls. The actor Bill Duke directs both movies, and both explore discrimination based on skin color within the Black community.

But Frederic says the documentary sheds light on colorism not only in America but abroad, “You know the color bias is not just in our community, it’s worldwide. It’s frightening how people feel worldwide. In India there is a colorism issue. In Africa we know there is a color issue and there is a lot of bleaching. In Japan also, and I’m like you guys are already pale. A young girl told me, “No, we want to be light. Light is better.” And I just think that we have to stop looking at what the standard of beauty is because it’s really what people are seeing on billboards and magazines and online.”

More than 250 interviews were conducted in the course of filming Light Girls, with men and women discussing colorism in the Black community and the attitudes often associated with women of lighter complexions. The film, which has provoked much debate online, includes reflections from cultural figures like Raven-Symoné, Iyanla Vanzant, Michaela Angela Davis, Kym Whitley and Russell Simmons.

The Oprah Winfrey Network aired the world premiere of Light Girls on January 19.