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Stylist Sues Oprah's 'Color'

Claims It's Too White

5/18/2007 11:36 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

A former stylist and dresser for Oprah Winfrey's "The Color Purple" is suing the Broadway show -- produced and presented by the media queen herself -- after she was fired, she says, for daring to suggest that there weren't enough people of color working for the show.

Oprah Winfrey
TMZ has just obtained a lawsuit filed by Shawnique Hill in a Manhattan federal court. She alleges that during her employment she raised the issue with one of the bosses that, "while the talent employed onstage was a cast of African American actors ... the crew hired backstage was Caucasian with the exception of three persons of color." What's more, she claims that her direct supervisor -- a Caucasian -- addresssed her as "sister" and "girlfriend," which offended Hill, who is black.

Hill claims the production retaliated against her for the comment, harassing her, and ultimately firing her. Hill seeks unspecified damages.. Oprah was not individually named in the suit.

UPDATE: A rep for "The Color Purple" tells TMZ, "We can confirm it is in litigation. We are confident there has been no violation of law."

84 COMMENTS

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46.

I see Annoyeds point    

chopka #44 just summed up the point beautifully

2631 days ago
47.

I see Annoyeds point    

oops sorry #43 chopka

2631 days ago
48.

Karen Walker    

I am so sick of Oprah! The breaking point for me was that school she opened in Africa! Don't get me wrong the school is wonderful, but when she put her own name on the school, thats just self serving! She should have named the school after any number of Africans who have worked hard to promote education for girls in Africa, but just didn't have the money she has! Oprah is suffering big time from "make me a saint-itis". Danny Thomas opened St Judes Hospital, he named it St Judes, not Danny Thomas' hospital! Oprah needs to learn the real meaning of humble.

2631 days ago
49.

p    

In actuality by Shawnique Hill saying those racist comments,"there weren't enough people of color working for the show". proves she has problems with her co-workers and is creating an unhealthy, racist and hostile working environment. People are hired by their resume, not their color, so this woman needs to catch up to the times, she thinks she should rule the roost.
and....
Oprah is an equal opportunity employer and I love her.

2631 days ago
50.

AznLA    

"It's a sad situation in the U.S. that people of color (blacks, asians, hispanics, etc.) fail to get top jobs and priority when it comes to the work force."

Dana, do NOT even try to group Asians in with you. Us Asians work hard to get to where we are, and we are getting top jobs in all fields. Sorry to burst your bubble, but we are not discriminated against as much because we work hard to get our education, go to college, and become respected members of society. Our work ethic says it all, and we don't scream racism every at everything. How often do you see Asians protest on TV about racism? Hardly ever. That's because instead of bitching about it, we work hard to improve our image. So don't you dare group us with you. It is highly offensive.

2631 days ago
51.

Standards are badly needed.    

STupidpeoplesaystupid things: She couldn't have been unqualified or talentless, as she was hired in the first place. She lost her job for complaining about something unrelated to the show's production. If she wants to work to improve the numbers of colored behind the scenes, why not do her job on Oprah's show, and teach production seminars to black communities in her off time? I'll tell you why. She's filed a lawsuit because she's pissed that she got canned for complaining. Complaining on the job is not a right. It's a pain in the ass.

2631 days ago
52.

Anastasia Beaverhausen    

How ignorant! Shawnique Hill obviously believes that it is okay to discriminate against white people. Just another bitter sister playing the race card, but with OPRAH's company no less.......I would call on the judge for a summary judgment against Shawnique and send her back to the Cuttin'Up Saylon in Harlem......

2631 days ago
53.

Jennifa O Jenny    

Sounds to me like Ms. Hill was fired for being too much of a bitch. And it's a bit racist to seek out only black backstage help and not consider white help - it's called descrimination and it's against the law.

You're supposed to hire whomever is best for the job and whose to say there are a lot of black people looking to work as stage hands on a broadway play let alone ones with a lot of experience. Maybe there are just more white people who've taken to the industry - who knows.

If the girl was offended by being referred to as sister and girlfriend by a white women then she needs to be an adult and open her mouth. Tell the women in a nice way that you find it offensive and move on. The lady likely did it in a mis-guided atempt to be relatable to a black co-worker, not meaning to or realizing it was offensive. It's only when people doing things with the intent to hurt somebody that it's wrong - which clearly this is not the case.

If somebody offends you and you don't speak to them about it - and they keep doing it and keep offending you. It's your own fault for not resolving the issue. A person can't correct a bad behavior if they don't know they're doing something wrong. It's just common sense.

2631 days ago
54.

get a grip    

What is this Dana's personal blog???

2631 days ago
55.

Karen Walker    

To Aznla.........Standing ovation for you!

2631 days ago
56.

Mystic    

I would like to know who appointed "Dana" - an admitted TEENAGER, "Speaker for ALL BLACKS" ?
I've sat and read every one of these comments and would like to add something that hasn't been mentioned here. Why is it that when whites make up 75% of the population, while blacks make up only 20%.... blacks expect everything to be 50/50 with white people? If you go by the percentages... it only makes sense that there will be MORE qualified whites for a certain job than there will be blacks. In fact, 55% MORE. Things like rights and entitlements should be equal - but in the case of black people being hired at a smaller rate than whites - percentage has to have something to do with that.

2631 days ago
57.

Mystic    

To AznLA:
I am sooo glad you wrote that!! BRAVO! And my add the Jews as well? Not only have Asians come into our country, taken on the English language, as well as every other challenge that has faced them.... they have SURPASSED the whites in their endeavors! THAT is the way to go about getting RESPECT from everyone. Something MOST black people have yet to learn. Sorry, but it's true.

2631 days ago
58.

get a grip    

Mystic- A+ You have a good point!

2631 days ago
59.

I see Annoyeds point    

GO AZNLA!!!

2631 days ago
60.

Kris    

I am sick and tired of hearing about Black people yelling RACISM ever time they don't get what they want. (Not all) This dummy didn't know when to keep her mouth shut, and I bet when she said something it wasn't said very nice. BOO F****in HOO. Get over it and get a life. Its 2007, not 1867!!

2631 days ago
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