Jada Pinkett Smith casts black actress to play Cleopatra and networks explode: ‘You don’t have to mix things up’

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Netflix will release a British docudrama about Cleopatra titled queen cleopatra and there is already a strong controversy around the actress who plays the lead.

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The one chosen by Jada Pinkett, wife of Will Smith who is also a producer of the project, to dramatically represent the character is Adele Jamesperformer of mixed ancestry.

Many Egyptians and Egyptologists cried to heaven when they found out that the Cleopatra of the series will be represented by her, as they believe that the ruler was not black.

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Adele James plays Cleopatra in the Netflix docudrama (left).

Adele James plays Cleopatra in the Netflix docudrama (left).

James’ choice for the red “N” wasn’t innocent: it was an impartial nod to the perennial discussion of Cleopatra’s true appearance.

The complaints

Netflix’s move did not go along with many specialists.

Zahi Hawassan Egyptologist former Minister of Antiquities of the North African country, said: “Cleopatra is not black”.

Hawass said that Cleopatra belonged to a Hellenic dynasty and was of Macedonian origin. “Jada, wife of Will Smith, seems completely unaware of Egyptian history because Cleopatra was not black but of Macedonian origin.”

James has defended his role in the production.  Photo: Instagram

James has defended his role in the production. Photo: Instagram

“If you look at the statues of Cleopatra or the coins with her face and even her scene in the Dendera temple in the south, none of them contain African features. I really don’t know why they are trying to do this. I think by doing so African Americans and Hispanics are trying to prove that the origin of ancient Egyptian civilization was African and that is not true,” she added.

According to Espinof, some have accused the platform of committing a “crime” by casting James to play Cleopatra. Others claim that Egypt’s history is being falsified and “blackened” for “cancel the Egyptian identity“.

The defence

Commenting on the criticisms he received for accepting the role, James told the haters: “If you don’t like the cast, don’t watch the series.”. The actress has carried the brunt of playing the character from the start.

Netflix, on the other hand, defended itself by citing Sally Ann Ashtonan expert interviewed in the series: “Because Cleopatra presents herself as Egyptian, it seems strange to insist on describing her as completely European”.

“Cleopatra ruled Egypt long before the Arab settlements in North Africa. If the maternal side of her family were indigenous women, they would have been African and this must be reflected in contemporary depictions of Cleopatra.”

On his colleague’s statements, Hawass replied: “He is completely wrong. It is still a myth that the ancient Egyptians were black. I’m not against blacks. Many of my friends are, but I’m trying to tell the truth as an Egyptologist. And Cleopatra was not black.

What do they say on the net?

As expected, this controversy has reached social networks. Twitter had a lot of fun.

Most of the comments endorsed the pro-Hawass stance with explanatory tweets like the following from @KushCunningham: “Cleopatra was not black! Europeans had taken over Kemet 300 years before he was born! When he regained consciousness, Alexander the Great had come and gone. Only the ancient Egyptians had a lot of melanin, otherwise they were considered black!”

“Cleopatra was Greek and NOT Black. Let’s have Ryan Gosling play Martin Luther King and Ken Jeung play Obama,” another person expressed.

A third tweeted: “Perhaps the Pinkett woman should have consulted Egyptian historians before declaring Cleopatra was black.”

And there’s more: “What reinvented story is this? Cleopatra was not black. She was a Macedonian from the Ptolemaic Kingdom; none of the Ptolemaics were black. At best, she was probably of South Slavic and Persian descent. The story The Africa is rich enough, no false narratives are needed.

“I don’t consider it racism, we just can’t mix things up. Cleopatra isn’t black, period. I don’t know, she can force and put inclusion where it doesn’t fit,” added another.

The controversial docuseries will be released on the platform on May 10.

Source: Clarin

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