If you told us that Stacey Dash, the ’90s icon behind Clueless‘ Dionne, would be labeled “today’s most hated Woman in America” (as The Mercury News questioned back in 2017), we’d have said, “As if!” The actor and her co-star, Alicia Silverstone, aren’t just partially responsible for our teenage crushes on Paul Rudd. They made plaid skirt suits happen, which are still happening more than 25 years later (as echoed in Iggy Azalea’s music video for “Fancy”).
Alas, today is not 1995, and in more recent years, Dash’s acting career has been swerving all over the road like a virgin who can’t drive. Though her post-Clueless money moves led her to roles in TV series like The Game and Single Ladies (and even a Kanye West music video), her controversial viewpoints and outspoken nature seem to have taken the wheel, isolating her from her peers in Hollywood. These days, she’s less known for acting than she is for being an ex-talking head on Fox News, dodging (arguably self-inflicted) vitriol with her peers, Laura Ingraham and Tomi Lahren (the latter has similarly been called “the worst” by the Dallas Observer).
Here’s a look at how Stacey Dash’s career went from Clueless to arguably clueless in a whole new way.
Stacey Dash was hired and fired by Fox News
The beginning of the end for Stacey Dash’s public reputation was her affiliation with oft-criticized right-wing talking heads like Piers Morgan and Sean Hannity. In 2012, she kicked off her career as a political commentator by appearing in a single episode of Piers Morgan Live. A cameo on Hannity followed shortly thereafter, and by 2014, the star was an official Fox News contributor. Unfortunately, her newfound TV success didn’t last as long as her fervent support for Donald Trump.
According to reports from Us Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter, Dash was “temporarily suspended” from her position less than two years into her contract following an outburst during an episode of Outnumbered, in which she claimed that then-President Barack Obama didn’t “give a s**t” about terrorism (the lightning-fast producers managed to bleep out the profanity before it aired).
Dash only managed to cling on for a few more months until her contract was up for renewal, and the network gave her the axe. Per HuffPost and The Hollywood Reporter, this came in the fall of 2016 after numerous controversial rants on topics like transgender rights and immigration, as well as “trolling the Pulse nightclub tragedy with a Donald Trump endorsement.” This didn’t go unnoticed by the Twittersphere, which was so unsympathetic, her firing basically became a national holiday. “Dear karma, good job on Stacey Dash,” wrote one user. “Do Tomi [Lahren] next. Sincerely, Twitter.” That appeared to be the general consensus.
She waged a war against BET, which had given her a paycheck
Stacey Dash is entitled to her own opinion, which is why her 2012 endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney only elicited some eye rolls and a few nasty Twitter comments. As The Washington Post points out, the star wasn’t immune to racial backlash, but that backlash was nothing compared to what was on the horizon when she waged a war against BET, Black History Month, and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Oscar boycott. In one breath, Dash ostracized herself from her Hollywood peers and ViacomCBS, the media conglomerate that supported some of her most prolific TV storylines (think: The Game and Single Ladies).
“If we don’t want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the Image Awards, where you are only awarded if you are Black,” she said during a 2016 Fox & Friends rant (via The Washington Post), during which she also called for the elimination of Black History Month.
Per The Washington Post, Dash’s statement isn’t even true. Though the BET Awards were created to predominately celebrate Black artists, who were largely ignored by other networks like MTV, the show still regularly nominates artists from various ethnicities. Justin Timberlake got four nominations in 2013 alone. Not to mention that, in the past, Dash has worked with BET, who promptly asked for their check back and published a gallery entitled, “Every Time Stacey Dash Proved She Was Clueless.” Troll behavior begets troll responses.
Stacey Dash picked a fight with Leonardo DiCaprio over climate change
Somewhere in Leonardo DiCaprio’s home, there’s a shelf with three Golden Globes and an Oscar. Throughout his massive career, he’s achieved several major nominations while remaining a vocal advocate for the planet’s ongoing environmental issues. He even produced the critically-acclaimed climate change documentary, Before the Flood, and serves on the board of numerous environmental protection organizations. Basically, picking on the much-beloved star is a weird hill to die on. Nonetheless, Stacey Dash climbed that hill.
When DiCaprio finally won an Oscar for his role in The Revenant in 2016, Dash threw him under the bus (or, like Rose did to Jack during the infamous Titanic scene, pushed him into the depths of a frozen sea that is growing ever-warmer thanks to climate change). In an essay on her website, the former Clueless star mocked DiCaprio’s acceptance speech, where he spoke out about the threat of climate change. “Leonardo DiCaprio, quit being Chicken Little — the sky is not falling,” she wrote, claiming that the actor’s warnings were “too much” and trying to disprove his claims.
This did nothing to help align Dash with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who’ve been looking to reduce their environmental impact year after year. According to Reuters, in 2020, they even banned plastic water bottles and chose a sustainably farmed menu, with a number of stars opting for eco-friendly looks. Meanwhile, Dash was busy calling Al Gore “ridiculous” for An Inconvenient Truth.
Her anti-abortion film was so wild, it struggled to find a cast
Stacey Dash certainly didn’t do herself any favors when she aligned herself with a controversial film project that may very well go down as one of the most disastrous in history (yes, even after Cats). As the Daily Beast reports, Roe v. Wade — which they called the “craziest, most controversial movie of the year” — was “beset by chaos” from the very beginning.
The anti-abortion film supposedly chronicled the “the 1973 Supreme Court decision that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion” with a “pro-life tilt,” but a leaked script revealed that the project reportedly “[pushed] conspiracy theories and lies.” It was so bad that, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie was met with a casting nightmare as actors continuously ditched out after reading the script. Beyond that, the flick struggled to find financing, with critics regarding it as little more than anti-abortion propaganda.
Dash stars as Mildred Jefferson, founder of the National Right to Life Committee. She’s joined by controversial right-wing pundits Tomi Lahren and Milo Yiannopoulos, who’s referred to himself as “the world’s most fabulous supervillain,” which is, quite frankly, a weird flex. Clearly, this is a film that has a very niche appeal, which is perhaps why it forewent the prestige of the film festival circuit and, according to Page Six, premiered at a Hyatt Regency in Orlando during the February 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference.
Stacey Dash called actor Jesse Williams a 'plantation slave'
At every turn, Stacey Dash seems to criticize her peers rather than stand by them — which certainly doesn’t help her reputation in the industry. This was no more than apparent when, in the same year that she started a war with BET and Black History Month, she likened Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams to a “plantation slave,” accusing the Black Lives Matter activist of being “racist” towards white people.
“You’ve just seen the perfect example of a HOLLYWOOD plantation slave,” Dash wrote in a scathing blog post, referencing the actor’s now-viral 2016 BET Humanitarian Award acceptance speech. “But the fact that you were standing on that stage at THOSE awards tells people you really don’t know what your [sic] talking about. Just spewing hate and anger.”
Williams has long been an outspoken human rights activist and produced the 2016 documentary, Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement. His impassioned acceptance speech condemned systemic racism and police brutality, urging viewers to mobilize for change. At the time of this writing, he has not responded to Dash’s comments — but he’s probably too busy to while appearing on Grey’s Anatomy, which is somehow still happening in 2021. After being fired from Fox News, Dash hasn’t seemed all that busy.
She made offensive comments about the transgender community
In recent years, Hollywood has been working on its problem with LGBTQ+ visibility. As them. notes, 2019 saw a “record-high number of gay, lesbian, and bi characters,” but an unfortunate “absence of trans characters.” It’s clear that there’s still a lot of work to do, though people like Hunter Schafer, whose Euphoria role was critically acclaimed, or Elliot Page, who graced TIME‘s cover in 2021 to discuss transgender rights, are helping pave the way.
As Hollywood moves in a more inclusive direction, Stacy Dash has put herself in direct opposition. In 2016, the star released her memoir, There Goes My Social Life: From Clueless to Conservative, in which she ragged on Caitlyn Jenner for using the women’s restroom. In an ET interview discussing her book, she even went as far as suggesting that transgender people should pee “in the bushes” so as to not “infringe upon [her] rights too much.” Wow. “It’s tyranny by the minority. Why do I have to suffer because you can’t decide what you wanna be that day?” she went on to baselessly claim. “… I’m not gonna put my child’s life at risk because you want to change a law.”
Needless to say, that didn’t exactly align her with the so-called “liberal agenda” she claimed was being pushed by Hollywood, which is coincidentally responsible for her casting.
Stacey Dash thinks feminism has 'emasculated men'
As Hollywood was just months away from the bombshell Harry Weinstein scandal and the launch of the Time’s Up movement, Stacy Dash proved she was living in the dark ages with a bizarre take on feminism that angered all genders across the board. In the same ET interview where the former Clueless actress cluelessly suggested that transgender people should urinate in bushes, she claimed that feminism had “emasculated men.”
“We are the most powerful creatures on the planet, women,” Dash told ET. “That’s why I hate when they say I don’t get this, I don’t get that. I’m like, ‘Come on! We have the men. We raise the men. So, let’s start letting them be men.’ Stop trying to be men. Let’s be women. And let’s let men be men. Let’s empower them to be men, because I feel like they’re falling away.”
Weirdly enough, she also vaguely accused feminists of trying to take men’s jobs, claiming she didn’t have to “try to beat a man or try and get a man’s job to be a feminist.” It’s not clear if Dash’s views extend to the male-dominated jobs in Hollywood, but according to The Guardian, a record number of women directed Hollywood’s top grossing movies in 2021. None of those women were Dash.
Since Clueless, Stacey Dash's film success has been hit or miss
You either love Sharknado or you hate Sharknado. In some regards, landing a role in the cult film franchise is the highest honor, dutifully deserving the Razzie’s that have historically been pried from its cold, wet flippers. Dash’s role in 2016’s Sharknado: The 4th Awakens could’ve been a turning point in her career in the same way it served as a sort-of redemption arc for Tara Reid. Instead, it was the worst performing movie in the franchise, scoring a measly 14 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. In comparison, the original rocked a cool 74 percent.
It’s not just Dash’s run in Sharknado that was critically panned. Though Clueless was an indelible success, the actor’s career has accumulated a series of flops in its wake — if her projects even catch the eye of critics in the first place. Cold Around the Heart, which could’ve been the star’s big follow-up, ultimately made just $552 in the box office compared to Clueless‘ $56.2 million, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Similarly, 2008’s Fashion Victim made just $2,200.
In more recent years, Sleight has been one of Dash’s few successes, scoring 78 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and pulling in $3.9 million, but even then, most of her work has been ignored by critics. Following her series of controversial outbursts in 2016, none of the star’s work has garnered critical ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, even though some of it has gotten favorable audience scores.
Stacey Dash tried – and failed – to run for Congress
Stacey Dash clearly learned something from the Sharknado series, in which she starred as Chicago’s mayor only to get crushed by a house like the witch in Wizard of Oz. If anything, she learned when to concede. This served her well during her 2018 congressional run.
Fresh off the heels of a Fox News firing, Dash hit pause on her acting career and jumped into politics that February. According to CNN, she filed paperwork in California’s 44th district, an overwhelmingly Democratic district, where it looked like she had almost no chance of winning. For reference, about 83 percent of people in that district voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the seat was being held by Democrat Nanette Barragán. Dash had already established herself as a fervent Donald Trump supporter and rabid conservative.
About a month later, Dash withdrew from the running, claiming (via CNN) that “the overall bitterness surrounding our political process, participating in the rigors of campaigning, and holding elected office would be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of my family.” Hey, at least she wasn’t crushed by a house.
She's been busy dodging divorce headlines
If Stacey Dash took a step back in 2020, it may have been because she was navigating a tough divorce and the negative headlines that came in its wake. According to TMZ, her marital problems first emerged in September 2019 following a terrifying 911 call, in which she appeared to claim that her husband, Jeffrey Marty, had “put [her] into a chokehold” (which her manager refuted despite TMZ obtaining the audio). Dash was ultimately arrested for alleged domestic battery because Marty had scratch marks, but according to NBC News, the charges were dropped.
For a while, it seemed like Dash and her fourth husband were soldiering on, but the actor filed for divorce in June 2020. According to TMZ, she put the day after her arrest as their date of separation. At this point, her acting career had already taken a hit. The star claimed that she was making just $2,500 a month in income. Weirdly enough, Marty — in a probable effort to speed things along or avoid paying spousal support — reportedly tried to get the marriage annulled by claiming he was essentially hypnotized into it.
Per TMZ, Marty claimed that Dash’s pastor “unexpectedly and suddenly proclaimed that it was God’s will” for him to marry the star, and that he used “hypnotic prayer techniques,” which hampered his ability to consent to the marriage. Dash reportedly wasn’t against an annulment, though her attorney brushed off the claims of hypnotism.
Can Stacey Dash's career recover?
Since landing a spot on Fox News and positioning herself as a political pundit, Stacey Dash has racked up an army of bad PR over her outspoken nature. This has directly isolated her from her liberal peers in Hollywood, and as she claims, has cost her roles. In 2018, amidst her short-lived congressional run, the actor told The Guardian that her auditions were few and far between — and that politics were solely to blame. “You’re tolerated only if you fit their liberal profile. I’ve been blacklisted. I don’t even get to auditions,” she said.
Nonetheless, the star is looking for redemption, and it seems like Hollywood may slowly be warming up to it. Following the Capitol riots in January 2021, Dash abandoned her support for then-President Donald Trump, telling the Daily Mail, she was “done” and apologizing for her past behavior. “I’ve lived my life being angry, which is what I was on Fox News. I was the angry, conservative, Black woman. And at that time in my life it was who I was. I realized in 2016 that anger is unsustainable and it will destroy you,” Dash said. “… I don’t want to be judged, so how dare I judge anyone else. So if anyone has ever felt that way about me, like I’ve judged, that I apologize for because that’s not who I am.”
At the time of this writing, Dash has a handful of projects slated for 2021 and beyond, so the future is looking bright.
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