Cynthia Erivo has called on critics of her casting as Harriet Tubman to wait and see what work has been done.
Her casting was tainted by a flood of complaints from African-Americans and some Black Americans who felt the 31-year-old was an inappropriate casting because of her Nigerian-British heritage.
But speaking to Metro.co.uk, the actress has admitted that there is conversation to be had about how people were feeling – which I am willing to have when we have time to have the conversation – but all I can say is the best thing to do is wait and see what work has been done.
I can say for sure everything was done with grace and no one wanted to make a mockery of her memory. I wanted to make sure she was treated with respect and I made sure of that when it came to the script and the story being told and the way she was seen and the clothes she wore.
Every detail has been taken care of, for the good of making sure the story told of her is respectful and keeps her in the light she is – she is a hero, this is a woman who changed the lives of people for the better.
Cynthia is not the first actor to face such backlash; Daniel Kaluuya was criticised for portraying the African-American experience on screen in Get Out while David Olowoyo came under fire for for his asting as Martin Luther King in Selma.
I think some of it is a conversation about visibility of people of colour on screen, she said, when asked about the treatment of British black actors playing African-American roles.
That is to say, there just arent enough stories being told and we just dont see enough and so when there isnt enough it becomes an argument over who can do what.
I think that when we get to a place where there is enough for everyone, and we can all talk about the parts we want to see, then that makes the conversation broader and easier to have when we an see ourselves more.
Cynthia has become a huge name in the past year as she makes the transition from the stage to the big screen flawlessly, kicking off her 2019 with an EE Bafta Rising Star nomination.
I was in disbelief, she told Metro.co.uk of the moment she heard the news – in a hair and make up chair on the set of Harriet.
I think cried a little, I cant remember because I was so tired, and it was during a time when lots of things were a blur, but I do think i cried just a little bit.
The 2019 nominees include Letitia Wright, Jessie Buckley, Lakeith Stanfield, Barry Keoghan, and Cynthia.
Having three black nominees is an important moment as it means the conversation is changing and shifting forward.[We] want to see what society is, we want to see it represented on screen and I think it is exciting, its so cool – it feels like finally were seeing the shift which the conversations were having – what were talking about – were seeing that shift happen in front of us, said Cynthia.
We dont want to be a first or an anomaly, we want it to be a norm.
As for who Cynthia would vote for if she couldnt pick herself?
Letitia – I mean it – I would vote for her!
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