Jodie Turner-Smith’s latest role has gotten Twitter users into another argument about racebending in film casting.
The Queen & Slim actress will play historical English queen Anne Boleyn in a currently unnamed three-part thriller miniseries for UK network Channel 5.
Sony Pictures TV will serve as the miniseries’ international distributor. The cast for the project is also diverse, including I May Destroy You‘s Paapa Essiedu, Two Weeks to Live‘s Thalissa Teixeira and Jamael Westman from the West End’s production of Hamilton. The project is written by up-and-coming screenwriter Eve Hedderwick Turner and directed by Lynsey Miller.
As you could expect, the news launched a tirade of Twitter users calling foul on Turner-Smith as Boleyn. Folks in support of the casting also chimed in, resulting in a Twitter battle over who can play historical characters.
Ummmm…you cared enough to tweet about it Rob ????
— Chid (@Chidemordi) October 30, 2020
Why can’t a white actor play Nelson Mandela?
— Ahmed Waksa ☢️ (@ahmedwaksa2019) October 30, 2020
Why not give the role to a male instead? If historical accuracy is neglected anyway
— Arch ???? (@Katsjinski) October 30, 2020
Are people going to complain about structural inequality & microaggressions when she gets her head chopped off?
— Darrell Farnsworth (@translunarmusic) October 30, 2020
The erasing of white history and white identity is openly promoted now. Only the willfully blind choose to ignore this fact.
— R (@R79093171) October 30, 2020
So blacks can play whites but not vice versa? Got it.
— Charlie Avallone (@AvalloneCharlie) October 30, 2020
Rosa Parks was hugely significant to the black civil rights movement. The story wouldn’t make sense if she were cast as white. Casting a black Anne Boleyn has no impact on the story & is no different than casting someone with blue eyes or red hair.
— Tanith kerry (@TanithK) October 30, 2020
Well, Hollywood uses white actors to play Egyptian and North African characters all the time… turnabout is fair play I guess…..
— bene briggs (@beneragazza) October 30, 2020
anna boleyn doesn’t need to be white, just in her paintings she was portrayed as white, being white has nothing to do with her at all, but martin luther king needs to be black, he was an amazing person who stood up for black rights and a role model for so many people
— kayᶻ³ (@fearIesslwt) October 30, 2020
The backlash and counter-arguments can be best summarized by Matthew Hodson, the executive director of NAM Publications, who tweeted that if Jesus, a Middle Eastern figure, can be portrayed as a white man in modern media, then Boleyn can be portrayed by Turner-Smith.
All those people freaking out about Anne Boleyn being played by a Black woman were remarkably quiet every time Jesus was played by a white man.
— Matthew Hodson (@Matthew_Hodson) October 30, 2020
Photo: Getty Images/Wikimedia Commons