Francesca Amewudah-Rivers

‘Romeo & Juliet’ Actress Uplifted By Theatre Company Amid Racist Bullying

After online racist bullies attacked "Romeo & Juliet" star Francesca Amewudah-Rivers, her theatre company issued a statement condemning the behavior.

The latest actress taking on one of the titular roles in Romeo & Juliet is being affirmed by her theatre company after racist online bullying.

Upon the February announcement of Francesca Amewudah-Rivers’ casting as Juliet in the West End production, the actress faced intense ridicule. The level of harassment compelled the Jamie Lloyd Company to address the issue. In a statement issued on March 5, they condemned the abuse toward the young star.

“Following the announcement of our Romeo & Juliet cast, there has been a barrage of deplorable racial abuse online directed towards a member of our company,” detailed the statement obtained by Complex. “This must stop. We are working with a remarkable group of artists. We insist that they are free to create work without facing online harassment.”

Furthermore, the statement emphasized that abuse of any form toward their cast or crew has “no place” in its production and in the world of theater.

“We will continue to support and protect everyone in our company at all costs. Any abuse will not be tolerated and will be reported. Bullying and harassment have no place online, in our industry, or in our wider communities.”

Questions regarding Amewudah-Rivers’ portrayal of Juliet were due to her race and skin color. These concerns were especially magnified as her co-star Tom Holland, who will play Romeo, is white. The swarm of negative reactions online sparked a greater conversation about racism’s ongoing presence in theater and entertainment.

Deadline reports that Amewudah-Rivers is a relative newcomer, making her West End debut with this adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. Prior to this role, she appeared in two seasons of BBC’s Bad Education and has stage experience in other venues.

Despite the backlash, the show must go on. Amewudah-Rivers will take the stage when Romeo & Juliet begins its 12-week run on May 11. It will continue performances at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London until Aug. 3.