Already a veteran performer when she was cast in "Julia," Diahann had starred in the films "Carmen Jones" and "Porgy and Bess" in the 1950s. She won a Tony for best actress -- the first for a black woman -- in 1962 for "No Strings."
An NBC executive requested that Diahann take the "Julia" role but she didn't think the show would work. Besides, she didn't want to move from New York to LA, and she said that she didn't "trust" Hollywood because African-Americans rarely starred in film and TV at the time. NBC called her back six months later and asked her to reconsider.
"Julia" series creator Hal Kanter, who had worked on "Amos 'n' Andy" back in the 1950s, had a firm sense what heartland America wanted for its first African-American star.
Diahann wrote in her memoirs that "Hal was not completely
convinced that I was the right woman for the role. He felt my image was to worldly and glamorous. He thought I was too Las Vegas, too Broadway, not the image he wanted. He wanted housewives to feel comfortable with Julia."