‘Rustin’ star Colman Domingo reveals the rejection that nearly made him quit acting


With an Emmy for Euphoria already under his belt, and likely on the Oscar track thanks to his Golden Globe-nominated lead role in Rustin, Colman Domingo is on top of the world.

But to The New York Times, the celebrated actor said it wasn’t always that way — in fact, he nearly quit acting when he was rejected from a plum role in HBO’s gangster drama Boardwalk Empire because of his skin color.

Domingo nailed an audition for the role of a maître d’ at a Black-owned nightclub in the series and recalled thinking, “This is the one that’s going to finally be my big break.”

Alas, he was rejected when a researcher on the show pointed out that in the 1920s, when Boardwalk Empire was set, front of house staff were usually light-skinned Black people — and Domingo is not.

“That’s when I lost my mind,” Domingo said. He remembers telling his agent at the time, “I think this is going to kill me.” And that’s when he was fixed on quitting the business for good.

Instead, he fired his agent, got new representation and scored the role of Strand in an eight-season gig on Fear The Walking Dead, in addition to earning big-screen acclaim in supporting roles in If Beale Street Could Talk and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. And now, he’s not only riding high with Rustin, but starring in The Color Purple.

Domingo expressed, “I will try not to cry, but I know for sure that I’m living … not even my dreams — my mother’s dreams and my grandparents’ dreams and my ancestors’ dreams.”

He adds, “All the lights, all the accolades, all the beautiful critical responses — I want to bathe in all of that right now.”

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.