Remember that great Tom Hanks “SNL” sketch from the late ’80s, “Jew, Not a Jew”? Ever since I found out that Wentworth Miller, the lead actor in “Prison Break,” has black ancestry, I’ve wanted to play a variation of that game here. (And let’s not forget Vin Diesel, the man who put the “biguous” in racially ambiguous.)
So... presented for your consideration are four celebrities. Which ones have Negro blood? Which ones don’t?
This is not a contest; there are no prizes involved, so please don’t look up the answers on Wikipedia. This is about what you know, what you think you know, and what your lying eyes may or may not tell you.
Ready then? Let’s play Negro, Not a Negro.
1. Roma Maffia (top photo) – actor.
2. Phoebe Snow (middle photo) – singer.
3. Kimora Lee Simmons (bottom left) – fashion entrepreneur and ex-wife of hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.
4. Ann Curry (bottom right) – NBC newscaster.
I’ll post the answers Wednesday night.
UPDATE (07/25/07): I like this game. I might tee up another one next week. Anyway, here go the answers:
1. Negro. I’ve always been a fan of Roma Maffia’s acting. I was fortunate enough to find myself sharing a meal with her eight years ago in a group that included novelist Walter Mosley (who is half white) and the famously biracial Jennifer Beals. (That’s a lotta mulattoes!)
Presuming she was white, I asked Ms. Maffia if she’d even been cast as a black woman. She could definitely pull it off, I said.
She responded that she is part black. She might’ve even used the word “quadroon” or “octoroon”... and if so, I can’t recall whether it was playful or what.
It really blew my mind that, though she readily acknowledges her black ancestry, she had never played a black role. She gets cast as Italian, Jewish, Latina... but I guess it would be too deep for Hollywood to have her portray a character from a family like mine.
2. Not a Negro. As was discussed in the comments section, Phoebe Snow has often been mistaken for black, especially by her many black fans. But she’s Jewish.
3. Negro. Kimora’s father is black.
4. Not a Negro. Ann Curry has a Japanese mother and a white father.
Finally, here’s a bonus one: Nicole Scherzinger (photo below) – lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. I know you’ve wondered. So what do you think? Negro? Or Not a Negro?