Netflix announced on Wednesday that it would be releasing a documentary on the life of Cleopatra with one significant change, her ethnicity.
“Queen Cleopatra,” produced by Jada Pinkett Smith, details the life of the monarch who served as the last pharaoh of Egypt. The documentary details her life as a “warrior” and a ruler of “unparalleled power,” according to the trailer. The project will also detail her relationship with Julius Caesar, who acknowledged her as “one of the best-educated women in the Mediterranean” and Mark Antony, who she used to “protect herself and her country,” according to commentators. (RELATED: Jada Pinkett-Smith Is Boycotting The Oscars Because They’re Too White)
The documentary appears to make the case that Cleopatra was a black woman. Several of the commentators featured in the film argue that Cleopatra could potentially be of African descent instead of Greek.
From Executive Producer @jadapsmith comes a new docuseries exploring the lives of iconic African queens.
QUEEN CLEOPATRA follows the story of Cleopatra, one of the world’s most famous and misunderstood woman.
QUEEN CLEOPATRA is available to stream May 10 only on Netflix pic.twitter.com/0oDUSi8Add
— Strong Black Lead (@strongblacklead) April 12, 2023
“It’s possible that she was an Egyptian,” one commentator in the documentary said.
“I imagine her to have curly hair like me and a similar skin color,” another commentator said.
“I remember my grandmother saying to me, ‘I don’t care what they tell you in school, Cleopatra was black,'” another commentator added.
“Cleopatra VII was white—of Macedonian descent, as were all of the Ptolemy rulers, who lived in Egypt,” Kathryn Bard, professor of archaeology and classical studies at Boston University, said, Newsweek reported.
“We know who her father was,” Gerald Kadish, teaching professor emeritus of history and Near Eastern studies at Binghamton University, said, the outlet reported. “He was certainly not Black. None of her siblings [were] anything but Greco-Macedonian.” He, however, acknowledged potential debate over her mother’s origins.