Harriet Tubman, a fixture in and forerunner of the discussion on civil rights in American history, has seen her story told many times on the small screen. However, July 23rd brought with it the trailer for ‘Harriet’ – the grandest depiction of her iconic tale to date.
Starring British singer/actress Cynthia Erivo in the title role (with singers/actors Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae, and Jennifer Nettles supporting), anticipation for the film was sent into overdrive upon the release of the teaser (which can be seen by clicking here). But, before it marches into theaters November 1st, the movie’s already been greeted with controversy.
Because Tubman is so ingrained in American history, some critics were disappointed in the Brit born Erivo’s casting as the titular character in the biopic. Using the hashtags #HarrietDeservesBetter and #BoycottHarriet, social media users took to their platforms to convey their disapproval of a non-ADOS actress (American descendant of slavery) winning the role.
One of the instances of “mocking” being referred to above is found in the resurfaced tweet below:
Erivo, no stranger to the criticisms above, took to Instagram in 2018 after it was first announced she’d won the role to address detractors.
“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. 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. I hope that I do everyone, even those who are in doubt or are upset, proud. I hope I quell your fears, because I understand that is what it is. I cannot tell how protective I am of this woman and her story. I posted this because I cannot allow people to make me neglect to celebrate this honor. This story has gone unnoted for long enough and @debramchaseDaniela Taplin and @focusfeatures are the perfect home the beautiful way. Kasi Lemmons has told this story is more than a blessing. I am glad to be given the opportunity to bring the life of Harriet Tubman to you. I would be lying if I didn’t make it clear that this is scary, and I thank you in advance for the support. Love you much. ALL OF YOU! Yours truly…”
As of time reported she’s not responded to the most recent attacks on the forthcoming film.