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Jodie Turner-Smith criticized for playing a historically white figure

By Tatenda Marwodzi

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British born model, Jodie Turner-Smith, has received criticism for playing a historical white figure, Queen Anne Boleyn.

Queen Anne Boleyn, the wife of King Henry VIII, was a 16th-century English queen who was famously executed by her own husband for treason. Her life, and consequently death, was very controversial and has been portrayed in a number of plays, books and films.

In 2007, Natalie Dormer played Anne in the series “The Tudors”. The series ran for only 4 seasons before being cancelled in 2010.Now creative directors Faye Ward and Hannah Farrell want to retell the story of Anne but this time through a black woman.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to have the magnetic Jodie Turner-Smith on board to encapsulate Anne’s determination to be an equal among men and to pave a path for her daughter. We feel that history has side-lined the voice of this ambitious queen in favour of the men who brought her down,” they announced.

Unfortunately, the revelation has not been received well by both the black and white community.”White people have played historical black characters, yes but it doesn’t mean we should do the same. It’s unnecessary, blacks don’t ask for that but for more representation and corrective promotion,” said one viewer insinuating that Jodie is being used solely for promotional purposes.

In her defence, Jodie is not the first black person to play a white role. Samuel L Jackson played Nick Fury in The Avengers, Idris Elba played Heimdall in Thor and Noma Dumezweni was cast as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Just like Jodie, Noma was heavily criticised for playing Hermione but she responded to critics by saying:”It stems from ignorance. They don’t want to be a part of the creative act. To say it’s not as it was intended is so unimaginative. I don’t think they understand how theatre works. We’re here to heal you, make you smile and whisk you away.”

In the same vein, Jodie’s spirit has not been broken. Instead, she told Variety that she is “so excited to join these exciting filmmakers in bringing the story of one of history’s most controversial queens to the screen.”

Despite the criticism, a lot more people have applauded the production team’s support for racial equality. “Jodie Turner-Smith being cast as Anne Boleyn is an empowering step forward for racial equality,” commented columnist Andrew Doyle.

The drama series will air on British Channel 5 soon.


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