Keshia Chanté gets real about working in entertainment as a Black woman: 'It's hard'

The Ottawa-born star chatted about her experience in the industry after more than two decades.

Keshia Chanté is opening up about her career in the entertainment industry as a Black woman. (Photo via @keshiachante on Instagram)
Keshia Chanté is opening up about her career in the entertainment industry as a Black woman. (Photo via @keshiachante on Instagram)

Keshia Chanté hasn't had a perfect experience in the entertainment industry.

While hosting Paramount Plus's "Black Voices Roundtable," the 34-year-old Ottawa-born star reflected on her career — which spans more than two decades — as a singer, actress and TV host.

The "Unpredictable" singer and "ET Canada" host shared a clip of the episode on Instagram on Tuesday, where she chatted with "The Game" actress Wendy Raquel Robinson, "Straight Outta Compton" actor Neil Brown Jr. and "iCarly" star Laci Mosley.

"I got into the industry when I was 13-years-old. I remember showing up with my curls and they didn't know what to do with the curls," Chanté recalled in the clip. "I eventually started to straighten my hair. They would put gel, they would put hairspray. I used to get my makeup done and [the product] wasn't even my complexion. I would say, 'What is this product?' and they'd be like, 'Oh, we use this for burn victims.'"

Chanté continued to share during the roundtable that working as a Black person in the industry usually comes with an extra burden that's unassociated with the actual work of their job.

"We all probably have some sort of either horror story or something that just makes you feel like, 'I wanna come here and focus on my lines, just the work,'" she added. "And then what it takes to have to speak up for yourself with people who feel like they're the best at makeup, they're the best at hair, they're the best at wardrobe, and here you come to say, 'Hey, you can't use hairspray on my hair, it doesn't work like that for me.' Then it's like, now you've pissed people off — it's hard."

Fans showed their support for Chanté in the comments of her post, with many people including their own instances of working with professionals who were unprepared to work with people of colour.

"Facts! I remember a MAC makeup artist who tried to used black eyeshadow to contour me," one person shared, while Chanté replied saying, "Girl, the audacity."

"I remember going to do a commercial when I was 15," another person recalled. "They had no idea what they were doing for makeup (nor did I) but my face wasn't the same colour when I walked in. I was orange when they were done with me!"

"Such an important conversation and this is still definitely happening today," a fan added.

"This is so true. They mess your hair up then wonder what to do with it after, and now you looking like a mess in a job where you, more often than not, have to look presentable depending on the gig," another chimed in.

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