Danielle Brooks slams LA Times for confusing her with another black actress

Danielle Brooks

I don’t know how many people will care about this story because Danielle Brooks isn’t a huge name. She currently stars as Taystee in OITNB. Danielle does a heartbreaking job of portraying a bright yet tragic character who can’t get ahead in life no matter how hard she tries. She’s a marvelous actress. Danielle attended Monday night’s Emmys and made a beautiful appearance on the red carpet. The experience was marred by the LA times posting this photo (which has since been removed) and labeling Danielle as another black actress, Retta from Parks and Recreation.

Oh no. Retta and Danielle tweeted their annoyance.

(1: Retta) Ohhhhhh @LATimes . . . (Peep it @thedanieb) pic.twitter.com/4kC3wjQJwj

(2: Danielle)) @unfoRETTAble @latimes you would think it was a ton of us in hollywood to begin with.

(3: Danielle) Righting your wrongs is never a bad thing. Thank you NY times for the flowers, oops I mean @latimes

[From Danielle Brooks & Retta on Twitter]

That Twitter speak may have been confusing, so let’s parse. Retta alerted Danielle to the LA Times’ error. Danielle called out the paper for not bothering to figure out her name. The LA Times sent Danielle flowers, and she responded wittily by “confusing” them with the NY Times.

The brings up the same dilemma as when a careless journalist confused Samuel L. Jackson with Laurence Fishburne. Here are Sam’s immortal words: “I’m not Laurence Fishburne! We don’t all look alike! We may be black and famous, but we don’t all look alike!” Again, I ask whether or not the offending party is racist or simply lazy. If we vote “lazy,” that’s no excuse. Actors should never be misidentified by journalists. It’s rude and unprofessional.

Oh, and Danielle and Retta look absolutely nothing alike.


Danielle Brooks

Photos courtesy of WENN

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93 Responses to “Danielle Brooks slams LA Times for confusing her with another black actress”

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  1. The Original Mia says:

    No words. It was lazy and unprofessional when it was SLJ and Fishburne and it’s the same now.

    • Mia V. says:

      Get a grip, journalists!!!

    • Rice says:

      Retta and Danielle are both funny, ebony-skinned and beautifully full-figured. That’s where the similarities end. The same crap happened to Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer with one of those lazy and unprofessional media types during an awards show a few years ago.

      • Ag-UK says:

        Same happened last year with Alfre Woodard at a red carpet event. I think confused her Angela Bassett.

    • Liv says:

      I don’t get the fuss, honestly. This happens to white and black people all the time. The less famous they are the more it happens. Journalists are humans too and make mistakes. Or they are just lazy. I couldn’t believe that the journalist who confused Samuel L. Jackson and Lawrence Fishbone was that uninformed, so embarrassing – but I doubt that it was because he’s racist.

      • KA says:

        It happens in real life all the time. i’ve worked at the same place for 10 years and I’ve been mixed-up with other black women in the same company. It’s the dismissiveness of it that bothers most black people. It’s saying that the person doesn’t think enough of the individual to accept them as a person. It’s as if they are saying “oh, I don’t know or care what she looked like. She’s just black.” In a business that already treats black women as if they do not matter, there is no way to not take this slight personally. And it’s from a so-called reputable newspaper. It isn’t racist in a nefarious way. It’s racist in an institutional way. Meaning that we live in a cultural that is dismissive of black people as a whole. It happens to white people too, but it happens far more to black people whether in Hollywood or in real life.

      • Sarah123 says:

        My nephew’s preschool teacher once told my sister that my nephew had refused to eat lunch in school that day. When my sister questioned why his lunch box was empty, the teacher said, “Oh, it must have been the other one.”

        As in the one other African-American boy in class.

        They don’t go there any more.

      • MaiGirl says:

        Exactly. What KA said. I work with mostly white women, and while some have no trouble recognizing me, I have been mistaken for literally every other black woman who works in our department, and none of us look anything alike. In addition, I have been told I resemble Angela Basset, whoopi Goldberg, Whitney Huston, Halle Berry, Condoleezza Rice and Zoe Saldana within the last year. They don’t even resemble each other, let alone me! It’s a systemic problem that happens all the time. You’re just “the random black one” until there is two or more, and then you get to be “which one is she?”

      • Liv says:

        I believe that there’s racism like you all described every day and that’s awful. I don’t think that mistaken celebritys for one another is (most of the time) part of that racism. It’s a tricky situation. I don’t get why the actress or Samuel L. Jackson were so quick to judge the journalists and call them racist, but on the other hand I would probably do the same if I had to face racism every day.

      • Addison says:

        If a person who is in the industry confuses Samuel L. Jackson with Laurence Fishburn who look nothing alike and are both long time actors I do call racism. It means that the person sees certain types of people as the same. The person also who confuses other long time actors should be fired for embarrassing their companies.

        As far as the two women who are the subject here I do not know them or never heard of them. But, they look like different people to me. If you are in the industry know the people and some history on all them. You will not know everyone but people need to do some research.

        Putting any name shows you have no respect. Granted these aren’t scientist with a cure for cancer but the correct name is not too much to ask for. SMH

    • joan says:

      I can’t tell lots of people apart, esp. skinny blonde starlets.

      But if you work in show business you need to.

    • xoxokaligrl says:


  2. embertine says:

    Racist and lazy? I mean, not that papers never confuse white actresses but that’s because the ex-Disney starlets really DO all look the same.

    • QQ says:

      Exactly This!!

      I mean They figured, Black Girl, Dark skinned Full Figured? Check check and Check …ehh!! Use that one’s name same difference

    • ichsi says:

      Agreed, newspapers confuse white people’s names too, but this just stinks of racism. As Danielle said: As if there was a ton of them in Hollywood.

      • Marianne says:

        I wouldn’t say it racist, just really lazy that they didn’t bother to fact check. If you’re getting your pictures off sites like wireimage or gettyimages for example, they are tagged with the actors name. Like, even if you dont recognize them….wouldnt that be a huge clue to who they are?

  3. maybeiamcrazy says:

    I don’t understand how they can be confused, they look nothing alike. Probably a journalist who has never seen both of the series misidentified them. I don’t think it is racist just lazy.

    • homegrrrl says:

      Why would someone write entertainment articles if they don’t watch the shows? P&R and OITNB are -hugely- successful shows, and these actresses are unmistakable. That is a fired for me, not based on rascism or bigIsm, but on the fact that the journo had no face recognition.

  4. Jackson says:

    There’s nothing racist in mis-identifying someone. Lazy isn’t an excuse, it’s just the fact.

  5. trollonthelosse says:

    i found out sometimes in journalism, because everything is under rush, you type without thinking and sometimes you brain is colliding with 2 names all the while you fingers already typed another one. t sometimes I want to say Amy Adams name instead of Isla Fisher. wish I know better. In this case I don’t know if it’s laziness or air headed journalist ,nevertheless when writing one should reread and get another person to do the same before clicking on send.

    • HK9 says:

      Being a professional journalist means you write, edit and check facts under a time crunch and with a little thing like Google, there’s no excuse. It’s lazy and wrong and they missed the mark-period.

      • trollonthelosse says:

        that was my point. I wasn’t giving any excuse.but few are “professional” and many slack on.

    • don't kill me i'm french says:

      Many confuse Isla Fisher and Amy Adams or Bryce Dallas Howard and Jessica Chastain or Nathalie Portman and Kiera Knightley

      • jaye says:

        I used to get Amy Adams and Isla Fisher confused all the time, but I’m not a journalist. I thought newspapers employed fact checkers in order avoid situations like this one?

      • megs283 says:

        @jaye – they barely employ writers now…the big ones used to have ombudsmen (kind of like the official newspaper watchdog/moral authority) – many of those were let go, too.

      • TheCountess says:

        I would not confuse anything done over Twitter with journalism. There’s no quality control when the goal is getting something out first, not accurately.

        Brooks overreacted.

      • lucy2 says:

        That’s a good point that it was done quickly and online, so likely something just one person did without anyone reviewing it.
        However, if you are the slightest bit unsure, it would take 2 seconds to google the person you’re posting about, to make sure they’re who you think they are.

      • Green Girl says:

        Sometimes, the caption is written by one person and the pictures are posted by someone else. That only increases the likelihood of a mix-up!

        Yes, someone should have checked the pictures. A quick, 20-second (if that!) Google search would have cleared up any confusion and there wouldn’t even be this discussion today.

    • megs283 says:

      I have trouble telling Isla Fisher and Amy Adams apart. I’m awful at that sort of thing, regardless of the person’s race…hell, I thought the two guys on Royal Pains looked like twins until I watched a few episodes. (Maybe I have a problem with facial recognition…)

      • trollonthelosse says:

        I think nowadays we don’t focus much we just overview. A person could swear the car they just saw was blue and someone who is more focused will say it was red. you see study when in one incident there are multiple versions.

      • Green Girl says:

        I am always confusing certain celebrities with each other because some of them do look alike. But if I were an entertainment reporter and I knew I had a habit of incorrectly identifying people, I’d at the least do a Google search, KWIM?

        I just thought of something else. Don’t red carpet events have someone who holds up a sign or something by a celebrity? So even though just about everyone knows who Tom Hanks is, they still have someone ID’ing him.

      • Lucky Charm says:

        Years ago, I was always confusing Renee Zellweger with Joey Lauren Adams.

  6. Loopy says:

    Its lazy, ridiculous and plain embarrassing.

  7. Diana says:

    Danielle is stunning. Tastee is my favorite character on oitnb!! Actually love all of them except piper, Larry and pipers backstabbing bf

  8. janetdr says:

    I don’t think I’ve seen pictures of Danielle out of character before- hot! Love the white dress. Can only imagine how aggravating the misidentification is.

  9. Allie says:

    I’m going to go with laziness since neither are well known.

  10. TheOriginalKitten says:

    Exactly, they look nothing alike and neither do Sam Jackson and Laurence Fishburne. I remember reading that quote by Sam talking about how people confuse the two and I was a bit disgusted.

    Then again, there are several white actors that I always confuse as well, like Patrick Swayze and Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte and Gary Busey, Michelle Monaghan and Ellen Pompeo so….eh.

    I agree that whether it was racist or not, it’s still completely unprofessional.

    • Snazzy says:

      Yes exactly!! It just shows the decline of professional journalism if people don’t even bother to check their facts anymore before publishing

  11. don't kill me i'm french says:

    It happens all time!
    James brolin confused with christian bale in USWeekly recently
    Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg in french Premiere mag for Boogie Night
    Chris Pratt with one other Chris actor in The Inrockuptibles this month

  12. InvaderTak says:

    I get people confused all the time. At least they apologized and sent her a personal apology. Not seeing the racism; just a mistake. I saw the interview where SLJ was mistaken as LF, and that didn’t appear to be racism just stupidity. It was a news broadcast and the supposed entertainment correspondent was clueless.

  13. DarkSparkle says:

    She looks fantastic in that pinky dress.

    • don't kill me i'm french says:

      For me,She looks better with short hair and in her white dress,she’s fabulous!

  14. FingerBinger says:

    It sounds like a simple mistake. I read an article online about Scarlett Johansson and instead of a picture of ScarJo they had a picture of Amber Heard posted. It happens.

    • word says:

      I agree, how is this racism? It was a stupid mistake. It happens a lot and not just to African Americans.

  15. lucy2 says:

    I think it’s just laziness and poor journalism, as others have said it happens all the time, people are misidentified. They look nothing alike though.
    Danielle’s NY Times comment is funny though. I love both of them and their shows. Donna and Toms Treat Yourself Day is one of my favorite things ever, and Danielle is amazing on OITNB.

  16. aenflex says:

    Race aside, I don’t think it’s the end of the world if an actor or celebrity gets misidentified by journalists. Shit, Tim Cook just got outed by one recently on TV. It happens. Sucks, but still in the grand scheme of things it’s not that big of a deal, IMO.

  17. Jess says:

    Love taystee! And Danielle was beautiful in white. I think this was just laziness (I hope). I still get some white actors/actresses confused too. Although they don’t look alike, so…

  18. lw says:

    Truth be told, in the pictures from Emmy night (not the one here), they do favor. Both have very dark skin in light (white) dresses, plus-size & top heavy, with hair in an up-do. And since neither is well known, I understand the confusion. And yessss… I am an African-American woman. Sam Jackson & Lawrence Fishburne are a different story entirely because they truly look nothing alike, and are both famous enough not to be confused.

  19. fluffy says:

    I get confused with celebrities too. It happens.

  20. Dany says:

    happens all the time with actors of all races. But as a gossip/fashion journalist you should google them if you´re not sure.

    I have this problem with some blond actresses… and i´m white and a blonde myself.
    For me Jaime King, Jaimie Pressley and Margot Robbie could be the same person. Every time i am confused who is who.

    Amy Adams = Isla Fisher = Joanna Garcia. I watch “Once upon a time” and was shocked when i thought they casted Amy Adams as Ariel?!

    • qwerty says:

      The actresses you named could be legit sisters though, they don’t just have a similar colouring but also their features are very alike. They are often mentioned as look-alikes on celeb websites. With black actors, models etc there;s rarely any resemblance in their features, it’s just that they;re black and for some people that’s enough.

  21. jwoolman says:

    I personally am having trouble telling Lindsay Lohan and Justin Bieber apart…. :)

  22. Nicole says:

    Ha! Good tweets. Well handled. I like them both more now.

  23. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I used to have the attitude that it just happens out of laziness or unprofessionalism, too, and that the same kind of mistakes happen with white people. But after the Samuel Jackson incident, some posters on here opened my eyes to the fact that this sort of thing happens a lot more to black actors, and to black people in their everyday life, and is hurtful because it seems all people remember about them is that they’re black. Or that they aren’t significant enough to bother to remember. He’s just that black guy on commercials sort of thing, rather than he’s a real person. People gave examples of being mistaken for another black person who was generations older, taller, fatter and bore absolutely no resemblance to them other than race. I can see how that would be frustrating and make you wonder if laziness was really the only cause. And maybe it shouldn’t be ignored or excused away.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      Yeah I can totally see that, like the “token black person” or “the big black lady”. Ugh.

      But have you ever heard of the cross-race effect?
      It’s why eyewitness identifications are so often unreliable.
      Pretty interesting stuff:


      The Innocence Project has a lot of interesting info about this phenomenon as well, in terms of wrongful convictions.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Interesting. I can see how it happens, to all races. I’m just trying to say that maybe it feels different when you’re a minority and it happens to you. And maybe white people shouldn’t be so quick to discount those feelings as irrational or dismiss them as oversensitive. Not that you were, personally. I just see a lot of comments like “it happens, get over it,” when that’s maybe easy for us to say.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        We are in agreement, GNAT, for sure.

      • maybeiamcrazy says:

        Cross-race effect is absolutely real. I did not know it had a name. I grew up in a country where whites were minority and a black man told me at first he used to mix white girls up but now he is able to differentiate them. I think it is because we memorise what we see. If you are a white person living in a white majority country, it may take longer to differentiate other races and vice versa. But none of these excuses the journalist. It is his/her job to identify celebrities right.

    • The Original Mia says:

      Yep. Happened to me in college. Got accused of plagiarism and told my past work showed a lack of education, so the professor didn’t understand how this paper was suddenly good. Turns out he had mistaken me for another student. The only other black student in the class. This incident solidified my decision to change schools. 2 blacks in a class of 20 and the professor couldn’t be bothered to tell us apart.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Oh my God. I have no words.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        Vile. So happy you left that school and their loss in the end.

      • The Original Mia says:

        Thanks, GoodNamesAllTaken & TOK. I don’t regret my decision to leave. I arrived at a time when the school was going through some racial issues that culminated in a protest against the administration and professors months before I left. I was glad to be rid of the place.

    • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

      Oh yeah. This happened to my mom. When my sister was a teenager, she worked for the local newspaper–delivering papers. Now, my sister is half black, half Italian. She looks like a typical Italian girl. She’s pale, has black curly hair (very silky, not afro-tastic AT ALL), and hazel eyes that turn green or blue. Her boss is a red haired white woman in her middle age.

      Now my mom was in the post office, and this woman comes up to her and starts talking to her about the paper routes–and my mom was confused until she called her by my sister’s name. And then my mom told her, etc…that was the end of it. Here’s the thing–my mom is probably two shades lighter than Danielle Brooks i.e. dark skinned, weighed a lot more than my sister did (who was very little), AND had dreadlocks.

      I don’t even understand how someone can do something like that. There was no confusion. My mom and sister don’t even look alike, let alone have the same skin tone OR hair type/style. It’s the ‘all black people look alike’ mentality. I don’t understand it.

      • Lucky Charm says:

        Like “all Asians look alike”. It’s laziness and ignorance, and also racist. Some people think that if you bother to personalize someone of a different race, then you are validating them as equals. Which some people just won’t accept.

        I admit that I have mixed up actresses with another one (several times), but I’m not publicly doing it, and I love having a cell phone where I can look up the person just to check if it’s who I think it is. And I’m just sitting in my living room watching them on tv and I feel the need to confirm.

      • Bunbun says:

        “Some people think that if you bother to personalize someone of a different race, then you are validating them as equals. Which some people just won’t accept.”

        Can this be posted to every ‘it was just a mistake, get over it’ post?

    • Pepsi Presents...Coke says:


      That was a really nice and sensitive comment, thank-you.

  24. AlmondJoy says:

    Laziness at its finest. I think Nina Dobrev and Emmanuelle Chriqui favor, I also think Roselyn Sanchez and Nicole Scherzinger look alot alike. In my eyes, Terrence J and Trey Songz could be brothers. But if I was in the field of journalism and was doing a story on someone, I would make SURE I knew who I was talking about. Journalists are supposed to have their facts straight. So really, there’s no excuse.

    It is definitely a little more frustrating when this happens with black actors and actresses though, because it feeds into the old saying that all black people look alike. Also, I think that at times, less effort is put into differentiating and identifying black celebs, as if they really don’t matter.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      “Also, I think that at times, less effort is put into differentiating and identifying black celebs.”

      +1,000,000. Could not agree with you more.

      That being said, I posted about the “cross-race effect” above where humans tend to perceive people of other races outside of their own to all look alike. So I’m not 100% sure that it’s all on white folks this time–I think sometimes it’s just an honest mistake that can happen between all races.

      However, that does NOT excuse journalists from doing their f*cking job—and yeah, it does send the message that these black actors are less important or interchangeable in a way. Just because it’s unintentional, doesn’t mean that it’s not disrespectful.

      • Lucky Charm says:

        Journalism as a profession has gone completely downhill with the advent of social media. A true journalist would get all the facts first and then report them. Now they’re not so much journalists as they are social media experts. Sadly, there is no integrity or professionalism required for the job anymore. I’m surprised the term journalist still exists, since the job certainly doesn’t seem to!

    • Hawkeye says:

      Agree 100% AlmondJoy! Especially since (I’m guessing) that if you’re press covering an event, you get an attendee list and have the names of people right there.

    • AlmondJoy says:

      TOK: I clicked the link you posted and read about the cross-race effect. So interesting!! I’ve never heard of it before but it makes alot of sense. I am almost sure that I’m guilty of it as well. I’m going to read more about it. But yes, it wouldnt take much effort to find out that Retta and Danielle are two different women that work on very different shows and aren’t even of the same age group. I agree that its disrespectful.

      Hawkeye, exactly!! That should make it so much easier. The journalist needs to do better.

  25. Loz says:

    I just came here to say that I love love love Retta. Maybe Retta and Danielle need to get together for a ‘treat yoself’ day.

  26. emma says:

    I LOVE Taystee/ Danielle!

  27. TOPgirl says:

    It could have been a simple mistake. Let’s move on.

  28. Reece says:

    I think lazy, unprofessional journalism (does that exist anymore) on this one.

  29. EllaM says:

    Did you people even look at the picture? It was in an gallery with 78 pics most probably compiled by an intern who took the caption he got from the photographer. That’s not a picture from an article written by a professional journalist… Mistakes like that happen all the time and it has nothing to do with race…

  30. HoustonGrl says:

    Ok, having worked at a newspaper, I think this was probably an honest mistake. Lazy? Perhaps. But not racist. I honestly wouldn’t know if I were looking at a picture of Rose Byrne, Felicity Jones, Alison Brie, Emmy Rossum, or whoever. To me, they ALL look IDENTICAL. Sure, If I spent two minutes comparing a side-by-side photo, like I just did with Retta and Danielle Brooks, I’d be able to tell them apart. But if I had to post up-to-the-minute red carpet stuff on Twitter, I’m sure I’d get some names mixed up.

  31. emmie_a says:

    Your story is missing a great tweet from Retta. She got flowers from the LA Times as well & asked Danielle if her flowers looked like hers (Retta’s).

  32. LisaStein says:

    Is it me.. I did genuinely have to look twice to see they were 2 different people… I can see how Danielle Brooks looks nothing like say Gabourey Sidibe- also a full figured black actor.. and if they confused the 2 it would be kind of annoying… but these 2 could honestly be mistaken if one was feeling a bit lazy…

    • LisaStein says:

      From the neck up.. quick double take.. one is obviously loads older…

    • hal says:

      well, I can agree with you that they look alike. The point is: you, reporter of the LATimes (not Star magazine!) are NOT allowed to feel a little bit lazy when writing captions of the most important TV awards show. It’s unprofessional and disrespectful.

  33. hal says:

    happens all the time, white or black. I’m going OT so I’m sorry, but going through Retta Twitter account I found hilarious her live tweets on Emmys night. “I hate Robin Wright’s perfect style. Hate is a strong word but I mean it” ….LOL

  34. Sarah says:

    So glad you covered this! I saw it play out on Twitter. I agree with a lot of other commenters that this is inexcusable and smacks of a latent racism and prejudice that’s pervasive in our society. I think pretending like racism doesn’t exist or that non-whites are “too sensitive” is a huge hurdle to open dialogue.

  35. skeptical says:

    simple mistaken identity. it even happens to the blonde white girls ….. because they look alike.
    If you’re not one of the Top Recognizables then this could happen.
    No one would confuse either of these ladies for Whoopi or Queen Latifah.

  36. Jenni12 says:

    As racist as Hollywood can be, I’m not sure what to make of this. But a journalist should know what they’re putting out there, no? And that photo in the white dress- she looks gorgeous.

  37. BlackVeronicaLake says:

    Well, I can’t bash. My husband and I do this all the time with white people. For years we thought Carrie Underwood, Kate Hudson, and The blonde woman from that movie with Beyonce was the same person. You know the one where she was trying to take Beyonce husband?? I think it was called “Obsessed”.. We was thinking, “This girl is extremely talented,” come to find out it was three different blonde women. Look exactly a like to me.

  38. Goodnight says:

    I can’t understand this and I couldn’t understand confusing Samuel L Jackson with Lawrence Fishburne. What the f-, guys. Not even close.

    I understand mistaking one actress for another (god knows most of young Hollywood looks the same to me), but in this case they’re really not very similar. Lazy.

  39. qwerty says:

    It;s the same with black models. I google Joan Smalls pics sometimes and can’t tell you how often she’s mixed up with Chanel Iman/Jourdan Dunn (like on zimbio). There was a similar situation with Joan at MET gala about 2 years ago I believe, some popular paper said it was some otehr model – can’t find the source atm.

  40. Janet says:

    Dontcha know? All black women look alike, especially in the dark. :roll: