Despite long-standing rumors that she turned down a role in the 2000s flick, Nia recently revealed she was actually told she looked "too sophisticated" and "too old" for the part — despite being the same age as Lucy Liu.
The revelation came as shocking news to Drew Barrymore, who both starred in and produced the film, and when Nia appeared on her show last week, they had an in-depth discussion about the whole thing.
"I go and I audition, then you go home, and you wait and you hope to get the response which is, 'You're going to get the job.' I didn't get the job. It's okay, it happens," Nia recalled on The Drew Barrymore Show.
She continued, "But the feedback was, 'My eyebrows were too sophisticated, and I looked too old next to Drew.' And that was the feedback, and I was like, 'What?' It just was an odd way of saying you didn't get the job."
While Nia says that she knows the decision didn't have "anything to do" with Drew or her production company, she says she believes it probably had something to do with her race.
"I think what was happening during that time is there were all these conversations about diversity, but people weren’t really pulling the trigger," Nia said.
"I think this is just a result of the fear of really putting a Black woman into a film that never cast anyone Black," she continued. "It was a first time for them. There was this initiative to cast more Black women, have more Black women on set, but Hollywood wasn't quite doing it."
Looking back, Drew agreed that the industry needed more diversity — and it had been a primary concern of her and her production partner Nancy Juvonen while casting Charlie's Angels.
"[We] almost felt nervous and bad, if you will, when it was me and Cameron [Diaz]. We were like, 'Oh God, that doesn't feel right for us,'" Drew recalled. "And the original Charlie's Angels were all white women. ... There was no diversity there."
When it came to casting the third member of the trio, Drew said she knew they were looking for something different.
"When we even went in to present ourselves as producers for the film, all of our pitches for the combination of the trio all had diversity in it, and that was just something that felt right in our guts at the time," Drew said.
Drew added that it was "bewildering" to hear that someone would mention Nia's age or appearance when letting her know she didn't get the role.
"First of all, Nan and I would never talk about eyebrows. That's the dumbest thing. That's not what women would do," Drew said, later adding that she was "mortified" when she heard what happened.
"Nan and I would never speak like that, and as far as age, that's the stupidest thing because you're actually the same exact number and age as Lucy Liu, so how is that possible?" Drew said to Nia.
She continued, "And I grew up in an industry where I was like, 'I will not fall prey to aging and all that B.S.,' like, that will never be my thing. I've watched too many people suckle off the fountain of youth and think they were less worthy if they looked older."
Nia noted that she was "101% positive that it came from a studio exec that has no concept in understanding the importance of diversity," let alone what Drew stands for.
"You've been in this game, Drew, for a very long time. And I know your heart, and I see your show, and I know who you are, so this was never anything I took personal at all," Nia concluded.
You can hear all that Drew and Nia had to say below.