Schooled by fans, Liza Soberano apologized for using blackface for a TV ad

September 17, 2019 - 3:20 PM
Liza Soberano, Star Cinema
Actress Liza Soberano in a photo from Star Cinema

Liza Soberano acknowledged her fault when she was accused of putting blackface in acting as a member of Spice Girls for an advertisement.

Soberano dressed up as Melanie Brown or Mel B, who was part of the iconic girl group, for a TV commercial of a popular fast-food chain Jollibee.

She shared a photo and a video of it on Instagram on September 16.

Applying blackface to transform a non-colored actor to portray a black character has been a hot issue in the entertainment industry as of late. Some perceive it as a politically incorrect practice that prevents diversity in hiring actors.

Soberano was initially defensive when she responded to her critics on Instagram.

Later on Twitter, however, she admitted her lack of awareness of the matter and apologized to those who were offended through a series of tweets.

“Before everything gets out of hand I would like to apologize for those affected by my comments about the whole “black face” issue. It wasn’t of my intention to mock anyone of any culture or ethnicity,” she said.

“I understand that this is a sensitive topic and that I should’ve kept my mouth shut. For now on I will try to be more educated about matters like this to make sure I don’t make careless mistakes like this again in the future,” she added.

She also cited cultural appropriation as an issue she’s willing to understand to prevent misrepresentations in the future.

She later thanked her fans for educating her on it.

This was not the first time Soberano was accused of applying blackface or misrepresenting an ethnicity.

The young actress and her boyfriend, fellow actor Enrique Gil, were heavily criticized when they were lathered in bronze facial paint to play the roles of Malakas and Maganda in ABS-CBN’s “Bagani.”

The network’s drama anthology “Maalaala Mo Kaya” also earned backlash for its two episodes that portrayed lives of the Aeta community.

In 2018, Norman King and his family were portrayed by actors in blackface.

Earlier this year, Maymay Entrata also played the role of a female Aeta, Judith Manap.

Blackface, whitewash and other types of misrepresentation

While dressing up as popular celebrities for occasions is quite common, some concerns of cultural appropriation or misrepresentation are being raised online.

Makeup transformations based on skin color or race such as blackface, brownface and whitewash are heavily frowned upon because these are perceived as dehumanizing, discriminating and offensive to the group or community they portray.

An essay explained that applying blackface usually comes from a position of privilege and power.

“From lynchings to mass incarceration, whites have utilized blackface (and the resulting dehumanization) as part of its moral and legal justification for violence,” David Leonard of the Washington State University wrote.

Whitewashing, meanwhile, is often done due to the notion that being “white” is seen as the standard or norm in acting.

An essay published by The Independent by film studies scholar Dolores Tierrney of the University of Sussex explained:

“We also see the assumption of whiteness as the norm in the idea that a white actor can play any character by simply “being” themselves or—if they are cast as a character of color—by putting on an accent, makeup and other ethnically defining attributes and performance styles.”