Diff’rent Strokes’ Todd Bridges Says He Faced ‘Extreme Racism’ as Child Star

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“You go outside and you’re treated like you’re ignorant, dumb and stupid.”

Todd Bridges opened up about the bigotry he encountered while growing up as a child star.

In a new interview with Page Six, the “Diff’rent Strokes” actor, now 55, said he faced “extreme racism,” which he called the “most difficult” part of his youth.

“Here you are doing something spectacular for people and people are enjoying it, but then you go outside and you’re treated like you’re ignorant, dumb and stupid,” he explained. “Not like you have some intelligence or you’re a good kid, not at all.”

Bridges began his career on television in such shows as “The Waltons,” “Little House on the Prairie” and “Fish.” In 1978, he landed the role of Willis Jackson on the iconic sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes” and became a household name. He is the last surviving original cast member of the series, which ended in 1985.

Following the successful run, Bridges found himself struggling with substance abuse and legal troubles. But he doesn’t blame those challenges on his childhood fame.

“There are too many of us that have come out great,” he said. “I had other things to deal with, pretty traumatic things as a child, that’s what affected me and had me go through other situations.”

Now he’s found stability in steady acting gigs and a family life.

“I can be happy watching TV or doing the dishes,” Bridges said. “Anything that affected me back then doesn’t affect me now. You see what’s going on in the world right now, you see the racism, you still have to go through it. I don’t let that affect me as much now. I know that’s what the world is right now.”

He added, “I think the next generation may change it. My kids’ generation doesn’t see color, they see people.”

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