Colman Domingo Was Passed On for Boardwalk Empire for Not Being ‘Light-Skinned’

Colman Domingo is one of the more successful actors working in Hollywood today, but that wasn’t always the case. According to the actor, he nearly gave it all up after being turned down for a hit HBO series.

Speaking to The New York Times (via Variety) in a recent profile, Domingo recalled a time where he was having trouble finding big roles and began auditioning for roles that might not offer many lines (known as “under-fives” roles for their lack of lines). One of those auditions was for the hit HBO drama series Boardwalk Empire.

According to Domingo, the role was for the maître d’ at a Black-owned nightclub, and the actor went all out. At the callback audition, Domingo wore a tuxedo and even performed some singing and rap dances. Despite impressing those behind the show, however, the profile notes that Domingo was passed on for the role due to the producers of the show wanting someone more “light-skinned” for historical accuracy’s sake.

Domingo nearly quit acting after the decision

The auditions went so well that both Domingo and his agent thought this would be a “big break” for the actor. However, a historical researcher on the show told producers that maître d’s for nightclubs of the time were typically “light-skinned,” meaning Domingo didn’t fit the role, forcing the show to pass on him.

According to Domingo, the decision made him nearly lose his mind, and almost had him ready to quit acting forever. “That’s when I lost my mind,” Domingo said, with his agent noting that Domingo told him that “I can’t take it anymore, I think this is going to kill me.”

Thankfully for Domingo, he didn’t end up quitting on his pursuit to be an actor, and the patience paid off. Now, Domingo is one of the most successful actors in Hollywood and has appeared in a ton of high-profile films like Lincoln, Selma, If Beale Street Could Talk, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He’s also an Emmy-Award-winning actor for his performance as the recovering drug addict Ali in the HBO hit series Euphoria.