Nathalie Emmanuel just gets it and we’re oh so relieved.
The Game of Thrones actress just turned down the idea of fans casting her as Disney’s Princess Tiana in a fictional live action remake, by doing it in the classiest way possible.
Everything started on Tuesday when Matthew Cherry, a creative executive at Monkeypaw Productions, retweeted a tweet by @glamsamxo casting How to Get Away with Murder‘s Rome Flynn as Prince Naveen.
“This is smart,” wrote Cherry. “Now who plays Tiana?”
The Twitter thread didn’t go very far before a commentator responded with a photo of Emmanuel. But what was most amazing about the whole exchange was when Emmanuel responded to her own photo with an even better caption.
“Nah, that part has to go to a more melanated sister,” Emmanuel wrote.
By taking herself out of the equation, followers on the thread were able to come up with very viable options including How To Get Away With Murder’s, Aja Naomi King, Star‘s Ryan Destiny and Kiki Layne from If Beale Street Could Talk.
As it’s been discussed time and time again, colorism is still a major factor in Hollywood as actors and actresses with lighter complexions are sometimes given more roles and more expansive jobs which allow for them to portray well-rounded lead characters in action roles, romance movies, comedies and movies which depict academia. Far too often, darker skinned actors and actresses are not allowed to play said lead roles and are reduced to portraying the side kick, or a reduced down stereotypes including the magical negro, or token.
Emmaneul’s decision to remove herself as an option is very telling, especially as conversations surrounding access call for participants who benefit from social structures to give up their privilege.
Other actresses like Amandla Stenberg spoke to this testament last year after revealing that she decided to not pursue further audition opportunities to portray Princess Shuri in the blockbuster Marvel hit, Black Panther.
“I got really, really close and they were like, ‘Do you want to continue fighting for this? And I was like, this isn’t right,” Stenberg said in a 2018 CBC interview at the TIFF Next Wave Festival.
“These are all dark skin actors playing Africans and I feel like it would have been just off to see me as a bi-racial American with a Nigerian accent just pretending that I’m the same color as everyone else in the movie,” they continued. “That was really challenging, to make that decision, but I have no regrets. I recognize 100 percent that there are spaces that I should not take up and when I do take up a space it’s because I’ve thought really, really critically about it and I’ve consulted people I really trust and it feels right.”
The conversation follows an intense exchange access Alexander Shipp faced when she responded to rumors that Beale Street‘s Kiki Layne was vying for her role as Storm in X-Men. Shipp’s response followed a social media debate over whether or not Shipp resembled the character because of Storm’s visually apparent darker features.
As art continues to imitate life, Hollywood still has a long road to go when it comes to rectifying its struggle with colorism. But ultimately, in order to eradicate colorism, we must come to agreement about the systemic qualifiers which makes colorism an easily accessible tool for division and eradication.
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