Egyptian Broadcaster Making Queen Cleopatra Film With Light-Skinned Actress
The people of Egypt are not here for the Black actress Netflix has cast in its Queen Cleopatra docudrama and will make their own version that highlights the “light skin” they believe the real queen had.
On Wednesday, the Al Wathaeqya channel—a government-owned Egyptian broadcaster with the country’s United Media Services— announced it will start production on a high-end docudrama about Queen Cleopatra based on the “utmost levels” of research and accuracy, NBC News reports.
The new Egyptian-made film comes in response to the backlash Netflix received for casting a Black actress to play Cleopatra in the Jada Pinkett Smith-produced docudrama series African Queens. Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities was among the vocal opponents of the Netflix docudrama with the government entity in charge of heritage claiming the mixed-race British actress Adele James does not represent the real queen. They say belonged to a Greek-speaking dynasty and of European descent.
“Statues of Queen Cleopatra confirm that she had Hellenistic (Greek) features, distinguished by light skin, a drawn-out nose and thin lips.” the Council tweeted.
News of Egypt’s Queen Cleopatra film came the same day Egyptian lawyer Amr Abdel Salam filed an urgent lawsuit with the Administrative Court demanding Egyptian authorities force Netflix to suspend its Queen Cleopatra documentary, the Egypt Independent reports.
Egyptian comedian and journalist Bassem Youssef also slammed Netflix’s docudrama as a falsification of history that was “stealing my culture.”
“We are not supposed to be angry for [depicting] Cleopatra as white, black, Greek, or African. We should take the dialogue to an area where people can respect you and support you, without alienating them,” he said.
The outrage over African Queens isn’t surprising, considering that Kevin Hart canceled a show in Egypt after upsetting the country by reportedly calling its residents Black.