WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

Well, you've got your Blackface, and for Asians, your Yellowface. Notice something missing?

For American Indians and Latin@s, we have 'brownface' - Expect actors to shave their bodies and put on bronze.

In recent years, this hasn't become unacceptable the way blackface and yellowface have, but many white actors claim native ancestry. Or they'll just use another minority. Sometimes, they even simply Race Lift the character to another ethnicity.

Associated tropes:

Examples of Brownface include:


  • The crying Indian from the Earth Day ad? Some Italian guy. (He denied it for years.)


  • Most Westerns.
  • Notably averted in Dances with Wolves; Costner's wife is played by a white woman because in the story, she is white.
  • Brotherhood of the Wolf.
  • The Last Airbender, along with Yellowface for Aang.
  • Played straight with Jacob Black in the Twilight movies, averted with most other lycanthropic shapeshifters.
  • A 1979 film, Walk Proud, starred Robbie Benson(!!) in brownface as a Mexican-American gang leader. Movie audiences in Latino communities were so offended that there were protests, riots, and boycotts against theaters showing the film.
  • In the upcoming Argo, a film on the Iranian hostage crisis, the white Ben Affleck darkens his hair to play half-Latino CIA agent Tony Mendez.
  • Vasquez from Aliens is played by a white Jewish actress. She is considerably darker-skinned in that role than she is in real life.
  • Jackson Rathbone caused a bit of a stir when he said he'd have to get a tan to play Sokka, the Inuit-inspired character for The Last Airbender. He ended up sticking with his regular skin tone.

Live Action TV

  • Star Trek uses this a lot, especially with early Klingons.
  • Completely averted in The Lone Ranger, in which the Native American Tonto was played by an actual Native American. However, the upcoming movie version seems to be going that way as Johnny Depp has been cast to play Tonto.
  • Legend has it that many of the cast of Baywatch literally had their bodies painted brown in order to appear more tan.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.