Director Blames Online Backlash To Black Cleopatra On ‘Internalized White Supremacy’


Leena Nasir Entertainment Reporter
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Tina Gharavi, director of the Netflix film “Queen Cleopatra,” spoke out about the wave of backlash she experienced for casting Adele James, a black actress, in the leading role.

Egyptians were particularly upset about the depiction of Cleopatra as a Black woman, and commenters laced into Gharavi for not casting a caucasian to play the legendary role. “While shooting, I became the target of a huge online hate campaign,” Gharavi said. “Egyptians accused me of ‘blackwashing’ and ‘stealing’ their history,” she said, in an article for Variety.

Gharavi was aware of the uproar, but says she wasn’t fazed by it.

“Some threatened to ruin my career — which I wanted to tell them was laughable,” she said. “I was ruining it very well for myself, thank you very much!”

“No amount of reasoning or reminders that Arab invasions had not yet happened in Cleopatra’s age seemed to stem the tide of ridiculous comments,” she said in the article. “Amir in his bedroom in Cairo wrote to me to earnestly appeal that ‘Cleopatra was Greek!’ Oh, Lawd! Why would that be a good thing to you, Amir? You’re Egyptian.”

“So, was Cleopatra Black? We don’t know for sure, but we can be certain she wasn’t white like Elizabeth Taylor. We need to have a conversation with ourselves about our colorism, and the internalized white supremacy that Hollywood has indoctrinated us with,” Gharavi added in the Variety article. (RELATED: Big Tech Pledged Billions To ‘Racial Justice’ Amid BLM Protests. Now They’re Laying Off Thousands)

“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.