Empire star Kaitlin Doubleday, whose character Rhonda was last seen flirting with death in the season 2 cliffhanger, finds herself “something of a minority among minorities,” as described by TV Guide, referring to her presence as the lone white woman among a predominantly Black cast.
“It’s been really eye opening,” she told TVGuide.com of the experience in a phone interview earlier this year. “It’s a sad time for many reasons,” she said, including the fact that Donald Trump, whom she called a bully and a racist, is the GOP nominee. “I don’t see my country in the same way.”
Doubleday says she feels lucky to be in a position to hear real talk among the other cast members about racial topics. “I have been a fly on the wall, with people speaking as if I wasn’t there. It’s been interesting to be part of the conversation [about race and diversity] among black people.”
Coincidentally, this experience isn’t entirely foreign for her: She was the only white person on her cheerleading squad in her freshman year of high school.
“Because of the way I grew up, in L.A. public schools, I’m really comfortable around other cultures. I never paid much attention [to being the only white person], which is a naive white-privileged thing to say. But I never felt a divide.
“I did grow up in a white privileged way; I didn’t think that many people were racist. I’m 31; I should have known that a long time ago. I just wanted to believe racism was just… drunk idiots in the middle of nowhere. What I’ve learned is that, on both sides, there is a ton of prejudice and assumptions about how the other side feels.”
She’s embracing what she’s learning, and relishing the moment. “I feel lucky that I get to be part of conversations that most white people wouldn’t get to hear. I’m proud ‘Empire’ is paving the way for other shows — for black, Asian, Hispanic and people other than white getting cast; it’s unbelievable. I talk about it with my friends all the time: how lucky that I got the one white role on the biggest show on TV.”