5 Black Actors Who Quit The Business And Why
Hollywood has been touted as a city where dreams are made — but there are plenty of Black actors who quit or took a step back from Hollywood.
Many people from all over the world make it their mission to travel there. Some visit as part of a vacation, others stay much longer than that.
Hollywood is full of transplants from other states and countries. With so many aspiring actors making their way over to the city, it’s no wonder that competition is steep. Many people hire agents to help them book acting gigs, others work tirelessly to support themselves while they focus on their acting career.
Still, there are some who choose to leave Hollywood after they make it, realizing that all that glitters isn’t gold. Several Black actors have come forward to share their experiences navigating the industry. For Black actors, these experiences can sometimes be negative. From having to conform to rigid beauty standards to being typecast in television shows and movies, it’s not only hard to make it into Hollywood but to stay there as well.
Nigerian-American actress, Karen Obilom opened up about her journey in Tinseltown. “As a black woman and actress, I have range. I am versatile and Hollywood needs to catch up to that.” She says, adding that although Hollywood is doing better, it’s still a tough industry. “It’s hard being a dark-skinned woman in Hollywood though. When the casting director casts black women they tend to get the ones who are already popular or lighter-skinned.”
For a number of reasons, many Black actors and actresses have stepped out of the spotlight after making a name for themselves. Some announced their departure while others chose to fly under the radar. Here are five talented Black actors who left Hollywood:
1. Karyn Parsons
Karyn Parsons played the beloved “Hilary Banks” on the wildly popular television series, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She was the oldest daughter in the Banks family who often set a not-so-good example for her younger siblings. Fans adored Parson’s high-maintenance, ditzy character who was well-known for her hilariously-oblivious lines and eye-catching fashions.
In an interview with Cryptic Rock in 2017, she admits to being typecast following The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. “I definitely got typecast and I’ve had doors kept shut; they would not let me in for parts. That’s happened, it’s a drag.” However, this was not the sole reason that she left the industry. She cites her desire to explore other personal interests as a big part of the reason.
As a mother of two, Parsons started a non-profit organization called Sweet Blackberry that focuses on enriching the lives of Black children through storytelling. Sweet Blackberry produces empowering children’s stories about African American achievements throughout history.
Juggling between being a mom and owner of a non-profit takes a lot of work. When asked about her plans to return to acting, she says “I thought, ‘I could just try and get back into doing it here and there,’ but it takes a lot more commitment.” She later adds, “As my kids get older and more independent, we will see.”
Since that interview in 2017, she appeared in a short film in 2018 and another project in 2020, maybe a hint that she could return full-time at some point.
2. Lark Voorhies
Lark Voorhies is a Hollywood darling, having acted as Lisa Marie Turtle on the classic show, Saved by the Bell. Her witty and talkative personality on the show charmed fans all around the country.
Voorhies made headlines after fans noted several concerning pictures and videos in which she displayed odd behaviors. In a 2020 appearance on The Dr. Oz Show, Voorhies opened up about her struggles with her mental health. She talked about how she’s taking the necessary steps to improve her mental health, encouraging others to have these conversations as well.
These days, Voorhies appears to be on the upswing. She appeared in a Saved by the Bell reboot, where fans praised her performance and how she looked to be doing healthy and great.
3. Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle is best-known for marrying into Britain’s royal family. After her highly-publicized marriage to Prince Harry, she became the Duchess of Sussex. But before she became royalty, she had a notable career as a Hollywood actress.
Many fans recognize her as Rachel Zane, a character she played in the hit television show Suits. The popular series lasted for seven seasons before ending in 2019. She also appeared in a number of other TV shows including Castle, CSI:Miami, 90210, and Without A Trace.
As for film, Markle has extensive experience in that industry as well. Her roles in films like Dater’s Handbook and Horrible Bosses helped contribute to her impressive acting portfolio.
4. Kris Humphries
Kris Humphries is a former professional basketball player who has appeared in a series of TV shows and documentaries. He had a featured role in The Mindy Project and played himself in many other Hollywood roles for series like Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles and Road to Brooklyn.
Humphries is also recognized for his 72-day marriage to superstar celeb, Kim Kardashian. He appeared in many episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Kourtney and Kim Take New York. His mental health took a hit after the infamous marriage drew major criticism from fans. To protect his mental health, he withdrew from the spotlight to focus on other personal endeavors.
He shifted his focus to owning fast food franchises and is currently the owner of Crisp & Green and Five Guys franchises in Minnesota. In a 2022 social media post, he announced that he’s set to open 10 Dave’s Hot Chicken franchises in the Minneapolis region.
5. Zelda Harris
Zelda Harris was a child star recognized for her role as Troy ‘the boy’ in the class film, Crooklyn by Spike Lee. She was also featured in other notable films such as He Got Game and The Babysitters Club. At a young age, her skillful acting chops impressed fans. As a result, she won several awards for her roles.
Eventually, she pivoted from acting and began pursuing her education at Princeton University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. She then attended UCLA and obtained a Master’s degree.
She currently performs as leader of the musical group, Zelda and the Lolos. Their album entitled Violet Eyes is available to stream on streaming platforms everywhere. Between tours, her fans can find her on social media, posting empowering messages of self-love and raising awareness to social causes.