Americans Sign Petition To Prevent Nigerian Cynthia Erivo From Acting “Harriett”
An American Tyler Holmes has kicked off an online petition to disallow British-Nigerian Cynthia Erivo from playing the role of American abolitionist and political activist, Harriet Tubman in the forthcoming film Harriet. The reason critics have said is that she is not American and does not know what it is like to be a slave.
At the time of writing, the petition which has attracted 635 signatures reads:
“We will boycott any film or anything that is negative towards us (Black Americans)…Next time don’t put on your Instagram we’re all black to silence Black Americans…You take pride in your Nigerian culture. We take pride as being descendants of American chattel slavery/black American culture”
The Hollywood industry has witnessed Black American actors such as Will Smith play the roles of Nigerian Benneth Omalu in Concussion and Dwayne Johnson who also acted as Davis Okoye in Rampage.
The award-winning actress who is one step away from becoming an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscars, Tony) recipient responded to the criticism via Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
I struggled a little with whether or not to post anything about this role, because even though there is so much celebration and encouragement coming through, there’s also anger and offense spurred on by my being from the UK…..I guess there is a bigger conversation to be had about heritage and experience, also about who Harriet really was. That can not be had in an Instagram post, what I will say is that my journey to this woman has been long and detailed and one I have not taken lightly. Nothing has been given to me without me first putting the work in, people speak of foreign privilege and truthfully life would be unbelievably easy if that were applied to me but that is not my portion. I fought for the role of Celie, and spilled blood sweat and tears playing her, the same applies for every role I’ve earned, this will be no different. I hope that I do everyone, even those who are in doubt or are upset, proud. I hope I quell your fears, because I understand that is what it is. I cannot tell how protective I am of this woman and her story. I posted this because I cannot allow people to make me neglect to celebrate this honor. This story has gone unnoted for long enough and @debramchase Daniela Taplin and @focusfeatures are the perfect home the beautiful way Kasi Lemmons has told this story is more than a blessing. I am glad to be given the opportunity to bring the life of Harriet Tubman to you. I would be lying if I didn’t make it clear that this is scary, and I thank you in advance for the support. Love you much. ALL OF YOU! Yours truly ❤❤
She will not be the first to receive backlash. Samuel Jackson criticised Daniel Kaluuyafor getting cast in Get Out.