“We can be sure that she was not as white as Elizabeth Taylor,” director Tina Gharavi said of the choice of the iconic monarch. “She was no more Greek or Macedonian than Rita Wilson or Jennifer Aniston.”
“African Queens: Queen Cleopatra” director Tina Gharavi is casting biracial black actress Adele James to play the Greco-Egyptian ruler.
The trailer for Netflix’s ‘Queen Cleopatra’ docuseries has sparked outrage, leading to claims that the streamer is ‘blackwashing’ VII. Queen Cleopatra’s legacy. Egyptian scholars claim that Cleopatra, who was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 69 BC, was of European descent and not black. Historians have confirmed that Cleopatra’s father, XII. on Ptolemy’s side, but his mother’s ethnicity is unknown.
Mahmoud al-Semary, an Egyptian lawyer, filed a complaint with the country’s public prosecutor, requesting that Netflix be blocked in Egypt for promoting “Afrocentric thinking,” including “slogans and writings aimed at distorting and erasing Egyptian identity.” Two petitions distributed to “Cancel Netflix’s Queen Cleopatra”. more than 88,000 signatures combined.
“Queen Cleopatra” director Gharavi spoke about the political backlash given to documentaries. Gharavi cited Elizabeth Taylor’s iconic portrayal of the ancient queen in the epic ‘Cleopatra’, which went down in history as one of the most expensive films of its time, and directly influenced the direction of ‘Queen Cleopatra’.
“I remember seeing Elizabeth Taylor play Cleopatra as a child. I was delighted, but even then I felt that the picture was not right. Was her skin really that white? Director Tina Gharavi wrote in an op-ed Species. “With this new production, can I find the answers to Cleopatra’s legacy and free her from the stranglehold Hollywood has placed on her image?”
The Persian-Iranian director continued: “After 300 years, we can say with certainty that Cleopatra was Egyptian. She was no more Greek or Macedonian than Rita Wilson or Jennifer Aniston. Both are one generation from Greece. Why can’t Cleopatra be a distraught sister? And why do some people need Cleopatra to be white? Its proximity to whiteness seems to give it value, and for some Egyptians that really matters.”
Gharavi opined: “Maybe it’s not just that I directed a series that portrays Cleopatra as black, it’s that I asked Egyptians to see themselves as Africans, and they’re mad at me for that. I’m fine with that.”
Gharavi confirmed that during its production it “became the target of a massive online hate campaign”, with Egyptian citizens accusing it of “stealing” their history.
“Some of them threatened to ruin my career – which I wanted to tell them was ridiculous. I spoiled myself very well, thank you very much!” he said. “No amount of witticism or reminders that there were no Arab invasions in Cleopatra’s time seemed to stem the tide of ridiculous comments. Amir wrote to me from his bedroom in Cairo to earnestly appeal that “Cleopatra was Greek!” Oh, Lawd! Why would that be good for you, Amir? You are Egyptian.”
Gharavi gave insight into the role of biracial black actress Adele James as Cleopatra.
“After much painstaking and countless auditions, we found an actor in Adele James who not only conveyed the beauty but also the power of Cleopatra,” said Gharavi. “Historians can confirm that Cleopatra is more likely to have looked like Adele than Elizabeth Taylor ever did.”
He summed it up: “So Cleopatra was black? We don’t know for sure, but we can be sure that she wasn’t white like Elizabeth Taylor. We need to talk to ourselves about our colorism and the internalized white supremacy that Hollywood has indoctrinated us with.”
James is the main character Twitter on April 13 to respond to the backlash over her casting, writing, “Cleopatra was a queen, not a slave. If you don’t like the casting, don’t watch the show. Or do and participate in an (expert) opinion that differs from yours. Either way, I’m gassed and will continue to be!”
“Queen Cleopatra” is narrated by Jada Pinkett Smith, who told Netflix. I know that the project “represented black women.”
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