The actress who portrayed the Egyptian queen Cleopatra in the Netflix series Queen Cleopatra has responded to the criticism around her casting. Actress Adele James addressed the controversy on her Twitter.
“Just FYI, this kind of behaviour won’t be tolerated on my account,” James wrote on Twitter, sharing pictures of vitriolic responses to her casting. “You will be blocked without hesitation!!! If you don’t like the casting don’t watch the show. Or do & engage in (expert) opinion different to yours. Either way, I’M GASSED and will continue to be!”
The comments come after a major backlash against the series was mobilized online. Queen Cleopatra director Tina Gharavi responded to the uproar with a recent Op-Ed essay in Variety.
“After 300 years, surely, we can safely say Cleopatra was Egyptian. She was no more Greek or Macedonian than Rita Wilson or Jennifer Aniston. Both are one generation from Greece,” Gharavi wrote. “Doing the research, I realized what a political act it would be to see Cleopatra portrayed by a Black actress. For me, the idea that people had gotten it so incredibly wrong before — historically, from Theda Bara to Monica Bellucci, and recently, with Angelina Jolie and Gal Gadot in the running to play her — meant we had to get it even more right.”
“Why shouldn’t Cleopatra be a melanated sister? And why do some people need Cleopatra to be white? Her proximity to whiteness seems to give her value, and for some Egyptians it seems to really matter,” the director added.
“It is more likely that Cleopatra looked like Adele than Elizabeth Taylor ever did,” Ghavari said, referencing the Oscar-winning 1963 epic film Cleopatra, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. “We need to have a conversation with ourselves about our colorism, and the internalized white supremacy that Hollywood has indoctrinated us with.”