Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Fredi Washington (Fredericka Carolyn Washington) (December 23 1903 - June 28 1994) was an African-American film actress of the 1930s. She is most notable for portraying Peola, the daughter who passes for white in the 1934 Academy Award-nominated film Imitation of Life. She had also appeared with Paul Robeson in The Emperor Jones in 1930.
Washington, a civil rights activist and head of the Negro Actors Guild, turned down a number of opportunities to pass for white and become a movie star. Possessing a very light complexion and green eyes, Washington found it hard to win roles and audiences, because she was too black for the white audiences of the day, and too white for the black audiences. When she played roles in films for black audiences, she often wore heavy makeup to darken her skin.
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