Fans raved about Cynthia Erivo’s portrayal of Harriet Tubman when the trailer for the upcoming film hit the web a few days ago, but some critics are bashing the casting decision, since Erivo is of British descent.
Tubman was born into slavery in America and an abolitionist, so detractors feel her deeply entrenched African-American heritage should be helmed by an African American woman.
One Twitter user wrote, “#CynthiaErivo should have never been given the role of #HarrietTubman.She disrespected #ADOS Lineage/Culture/History-#AmericanHistory.Disgusting,someone who hates us get play us”
One social media user went as far as screenshotting some of Cynthia’s tweets from 2013, where she referred to African-American vernacular as a “ghetto American accent.”
While the backlash has resurfaced after the release of the trailer, Erivo expressed in 2017 that she anticipated the rage when it was announced that she had snagged the role.
She wrote on Instagram at the time:
“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. ”
Continuing, “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.”
Even though #BoycottHarriett is spreading, the real feedback will come when the box office numbers roll in when the film hits theaters.
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