If you have functioning eyes, ears and a social media account, you're well aware that race is very much at the forefront of the national conversation. That's of course true in Hollywood too, where a gradual shift to remedy a lack of diversity is reshaping TV.
One exception to the much-talked about lack of color on TV is Fox's Empire, which by now you know is made of an almost entirely black cast. The sole exception though, is Kaitlin Doubleday, who plays Rhonda — daughter-in-law of noted monster Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) and the woman whose fate is uncertain thanks to the Season 2 cliffhanger that had her and Anika (Grace Gealey) shoving each other near a balcony until one of them fell off.
Having been on the hit show for two seasons now, Doubleday has a truly unique perspective on this big and important dialogue — being something of a minority among minorities — which had us curious: What's it like being the lone white lady on a mostly black show?
"It's been really eye opening," she told TVGuide.com in a phone interview earlier this year. "It's a sad time for many reasons," she said, including the fact that Donald Trump, whom she called a bully and a racist, is the GOP nominee. "I don't see my country in the same way."
She's been privy to lots of provocative conversations on the Empire set — conversations that are all too resonate and timely now. "I have been a fly on the wall, with people speaking as if I wasn't there. It's been interesting to be part of the conversation [about race and diversity] among black people."
Coincidentally, this experience isn't entirely foreign for her: She was the only white person on her cheerleading squad in her freshman year of high school.
"Because of the way I grew up, in L.A. public schools, I'm really comfortable around other cultures. I never paid much attention [to being the only white person], which is a naive white-privileged thing to say. But I never felt a divide.
"I did grow up in a white privileged way; I didn't think that many people were racist. I'm 31; I should have known that a long time ago. I just wanted to believe racism was just... drunk idiots in the middle of nowhere. What I've learned is that, on both sides, there is a ton of prejudice and assumptions about how the other side feels."
She's embracing what she's learning, and relishing the moment. "I feel lucky that I get to be part of conversations that most white people wouldn't get to hear. I'm proud Empire is paving the way for other shows — for black, Asian, Hispanic and people other than white getting cast; it's unbelievable. I talk about it with my friends all the time: how lucky that I got the one white role on the biggest show on TV."
Empire returns to Fox this fall.