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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."


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Hey Bill. (No. 76) That racist bitch who still uses "cracker" to indetify with white people
has a low I.Q. and understanding of "Can we all get along?" class 101. She must be
out makin' biscuits and gravy and beeze left behind with her type common folk.

2682 days ago


Hey Pissed-Off:
Go back and read what you just wrote. YOU are the problem. Let's see... you get mad at white folks who act like racism doesn't happen, but you also get mad at white folks who have the audacity to utter the word "racism"? We should "watch our step" because of the anger blacks STILL feel toward white people? How old are you? Were you, your parents or even your grandparents, slaves? Specifically, what have white people done to YOU, to make you hate them so much? YOU are the definition of racism x 10! Who are you to tell white people they have no right to speak about this subject or any subject they feel like talking about? I would not hesitate to say any of this to your face, as I am unafraid of ignorant bullies who only believe what other ignorant people have told them to believe. By the way, it is not the WHITE people who are doing the whining, it's... well, just look in the mirror! Your answer to this problem - violence.... makes me understand why half the black population is behind bars!! It's now the answer and never will be.
Also, PISSED OFF - it is not the white people you should be angry or even afraid of... based on statistics you will probably be taken out by one of your very own.

2682 days ago


^ "not" instead of now. argh!
Guess the moderator didn't like what "Pissed Off" had to say either... and they deleted her ass! Poof! You're gone!
Ah, to have THAT kind of power.....

2682 days ago


Who gives a crap. Another race card player. I am so sick of this chit

2682 days ago


Firstly - Even as a producer, Oprah wouldn't have anything to do with hiring/firing dressers on the show. Lower management would be responsible for hiring/firing technical crew. Secondly - Ms. Hill belongs to the same union that all Broadway dressers do. The union and management of Broadway shows have a collective bargaining agreement (contract) that states guidelines for hiring/firing of the dressers for all Broadway shows. The management would be well-versed in these guidelines, and fire workers only under the conditions stated in the contract, because they have had to fire other workers before. Incidentally, Broadway shows don't have "stylists," so she would have only been a "dresser" on the show. Thirdly - I doubt that her direct supervisor would call her "girlfriend" and "sister" derisively, and most likely would have refrained if asked. Fourthly - There is no rule or canon that a Broadway show with an African-American cast should have an African-American technical staff backstage. The technical staff is hired to perform specific jobs related to specific skill sets - which means that if you can do the job well, you get hired - period. If you can't do the job well, you get fired - period. Fifthly - technical staff is fired only after shortcomings are documented because of the contract between union and management. Management knows that they can't just fire someone because they "complain." I suspect that Ms. Hill didn't do the job well and was bitter that she was let go - I hope she loses the case. If you were wondering, I have worked on Broadway before - and I had not ever worked with anyone who would persist in using names like "sister" or "girlfriend" had they been asked to stop. I had met, on the other hand, bitter technicians who thought that they were entitled when they weren't, especially after they had been let go for not doing the job they had been hired to perform.

2682 days ago


Funny, I worked with Shawnique Hill on a tv show and her ass got fired. I also remember some sort of scandal there.... I think she's just a big trouble maker.....

2682 days ago


#65 You are extrapolating and writng about assumptions YOU THINK i am making...when on earth did any clear thinking person think that racism applies to only one race....................if you want to write something write it dont extrapolate from other peoples comments

I am very comfortable in my knowledge of history...I know that with every land there were people who existed before Europeans turned up to CLAIM that land, and I also know that AFRICANS were slaves who worked to add to the riches of this country..JUST as I KNOW the contributions of the IRISH, GERMAN POLISH AND MORE RECENT immigrants

You can disagree with me but dont extrapolate to write about ASSUMPTIONS that are not noted anywhere

When we blame government policies for every singe personal situation it hard to see the bigger picture and the statistics and research on these the same time I do realise that no all research can be overly rigorous, but collective data gives a better picture than individual persons experience and that is how I formulated my opinions about affirmative

I am sorry if that does not fit your personal experiences . Its hard when you have negative personal experiences to see anything good about the program that you think put you in that situation. But I also believe in the collective good for the betterment of a society and you are more than welcome to disagree in the best way possible without extrapolating from noted opinions. If you are unsure of a comment you can exercise caution and inquire further

Also I think that most sucess requires hard work, so for those who think ALL black people are lazy, I dont think they have anything to be worried about , since these LAZY black people will not work too hard to sustain thier positions...And since all minorities are not black you still have to contend with the native americans, the white women, the hispanics, the asians etc....and the many different arrays of minorities...
Affirmative action is not a perfect program is...and like most programs there are victims, the free loaders and the sucess stories...however if data shows that the general goals are not being achieved then it should be cancelled, but so long as its working , a few negative personal stories will not lead to the demise of the program..beacause there will be sucess stories out there
If you want to succeed in a job , you dont do so my assuming your competition is weak and lazy, rather work hard to prove how good you are and concentrate on promoting yourself loud and clear and people will HEAR your WORK before they SEE you.

Enjoy your weekend

PS...The lady in that story just needs her arse kicked and I hope the judge requires her to pay for wasted time....

2682 days ago

Ratta !    

Perhaps they didn't hire based on race. It sounds like she was trying to create a racially divided, racist work situation. That doesn't sound condusive to working together towards a common goal of the production. Why would the crew be considered unqualified based on their race? I believe anyone who judges people based on their race alone is a racist.

2681 days ago


Oprah has bragged on her show that NOW white people are working for her.
Why should anyone be surprised at this?

2680 days ago
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