For years, the film industry has stereotyped female actors, shunning them if they don’t fit into the mould. They expect them to adhere to certain unhealthy standards of beauty such as being skinny, fair-skinned and eternally youthful. Here are a few actors who spoke about losing roles in movies because of the way they looked. 

1. Anushka Sharma

The actor on many occasions spoke about the criticism she has faced for not being ‘good-looking enough.’ Anushka said that she has faced rejection since the age of 15 and even when she was casted in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Aditya Chopra told her that she wasn’t very good-looking but was being given the role because of her talent. 

They might just tell you, ‘The look wasn’t right’. That’s an indirect way of talking about the physical aspect of you. It will always be backed by some politically correct statements, which is fake and to me, that’s far more disrespectful. I feel it’s better if someone tells me to my face that you aren’t good-looking enough for the part. Saamne hi bol do na!

-Anushka told DNA

2. Radhika Apte

Radhika was originally offered Yami Gautam’s part in Vicky Donor but was later rejected for being “overweight by a few kilos.” The actor spoke about the incident during an interview and even said that it messed her up. 

I had gone on a holiday for a month, drank a lot of beer, ate loads of food. I told them that I’ll come back and lose it. But they did not want to take a chance. I don’t get affected by rejection at work, but the weight thing really messed with my head. 

-Radhika Apte

3. Konkona Sen Sharma

In an interview, the actor spoke about how the pressure to look a certain way can be overwhelming. And how it took her a while to get used to acting and the environment that surrounds this industry. 

I was very unhappy. I used to cry regularly. I felt a lot of pressure to look a certain way. I was just very uncomfortable with the whole situation. Eventually, things changed. I don’t know how and when, but it changed. 

-Konkana Sen Sharma

4. Nandita Das

Nandita Das spoke about the kind of roles she is repeatedly offered and how she is asked to lighten her skin while being offered roles. She has been quite vocal about how she hates the colourism in Bollywood and is even a part of the Dark Is Beautiful campaign. 

When there is a role of a rural woman, or a Dalit woman, or the role of a slum-dweller, then my skin colour is fine. But the minute I have to play an educated, upper-middle-class character, invariably someone comes up to me and says ‘I know you don’t like to lighten your skin, but you know this role is of an upper-middle-class educated person’.

-Nandita Das

5. Neena Gupta 

After being offered only inconsequential roles, Neena Gupta took it upon herself to advertise her talent. And that’s when she made the iconic post on Instagram saying that she was open to good work. As relayed in Masaba Masaba, the actor was rejected often because of her age and the fact she didn’t have any ‘godfather’s’ in Bollywood. 

Badhaai Ho
It’s common knowledge now, how I ‘advertised’ my availability as an actress, and took up the (Badhaai Ho) challenging role. Personally, I think, breaking the norm made the big difference. And all the awards added their bit. I had entire cover stories written on me. I have won the national award earlier for Woh Chokri, but no one had even noticed that!

-Neena Gupta to Live Mint

6. Taapsee Pannu

After her Telugu debut, Taapsee said that she was often rejected for weird reasons while trying to find roles in Bollywood. Sometimes it had to do with her looks and sometimes they said that she just wasn’t related to the right people. 

I was told, ‘You are not beautiful and glamorous enough’, ‘Oh no, you’re too serious an actor’… ‘You’re not good enough an actor’, ‘You are not so and so’s daughter’. I was even told, ‘You are not a big marketable name.’

-Taapsee Pannu

7. Mindy Kaling

The successful comedian and actor recalled an incident when a network offered her a sketch show but made her audition for it. Only to reject her later because she wasn’t considered good enough to play herself. Post this incident, Mindy went on to do The Office which was on-air for many years. 

TV Guide
We were not considered attractive or funny enough to play ourselves. That network is no longer on the air, and The Office went on to be one of NBC’s most hit shows in years. I feel like karmically, I was vindicated, but at the time it felt terrible.

-Mindy Kaling

8. Meryl Streep

The legendary actor spoke about being considered ‘too old‘ for roles when she turned 40. However, she admitted that the industry has since then changed and now at 71, she can pick from a variety of roles she likes. 

I would say our culture is pretty youth-obsessed. When I was 40, I was offered three witch (roles). I was not offered any female adventurers or love interests or heroes or demons. I was offered witches because I was ‘old’ at 40.

-Meryl Streep

9. Anne Hathaway

In an interview, Anne spoke about the way women are cast into roles, and how roles her age are being played by younger actors. The industry is constantly seeking out younger actors to play roles which aren’t age appropriate. 

When I was in my early twenties, parts would be written for women in their fifties and I would get them. And now I’m in my early thirties and I’m like, ‘Why did that 24 year old get that part?’

-Anne Hathaway

10. Jennifer Lawrence

The actor stated that in Hollywood, she is considered “too fat” and “obese” because she refuses to starve herself for roles. She has also openly spoke up about the toxic weight-loss culture the industry propogates. 

When I was much younger and starting out, I was told by the producers of a film to lose 15 pounds in two weeks. One girl before me had already been fired for not losing enough weight fast enough. 

-Jennifer Lawrence

11. Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer lost a considerable amount of weight for her hit film, Trainwreck. However, she said that she felt horrible about how skinny she looked in the film and ‘revenge ate’ to go back to how she looked before. She also said that the only reason she lost weight was because people told her she would never be successful otherwise and was only offered roles where she had to look a certain way. 

ET Online
I’m what Hollywood calls, very fat. Somebody, like, explained to me, ‘Just so you know, Amy, no pressure, but if you weigh over 140 lbs, it will hurt people’s eyes.’

-Amy Schumer

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