#BoycottHarriet: Protest Erupts Against British Actress Playing Harriet Tubman in Biopic

Published: Thursday 25th Jul 2019 by Rashad

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.

Details inside:

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.

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  1. Lol July 25, 2019

    Gosh black Americans are so damn racist. Let black British h shine! British just have as much talent as Americans.. But never get the praise..

    • Highbrowthis July 25, 2019

      It’s not about racism it’s about controlling our own narrative and how we are represented. Aside from this actress playing the role it’s important for them to represent the community throughout promoting the film. Studios usually go for British actors and actresses simply because they are cheaper and are paid less than their American counterparts.

      • Jasmine July 25, 2019

        I disagree. Black Americans are being petty on this. Black people need to realize the bigger picture. Black people originated in Africa. Slavery is what brought them to Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. Any black person with a slave master last name has roots tied to their ancestors being slaves.

        In the US, black directors have a horrible habit of only casting black actors to play roles similar to themselves in roles. Because of that, black actors are not given the opportunity to showcase whether or not they have acting skills.

    • Brewer July 25, 2019

      Sound is nyc and voice also …….. You have to work and use the computer and internet, and if you can do that and dedicate some time each day then you can do this with no problem.
      I have been working with this for a month and have made over $2,000 already. let me know if you need more help.
      Read more <===

    • Harv July 25, 2019

      Even Beverley Knight threatened to boycott the MOBOs becausd it was too American-centric over a decade ago. And Black Americans didn’t mock Brits like Erivo did to Black Americans.

      My culture is too precious to have Cynthia Erivo, who has disrespected my people, to play our historical giant Harriet Tubman.

    • Harv July 25, 2019

      Actors like Erivo, and her white backing, leverage my culture for her personal ambition to get an Oscar, but spit on us and wouldn’t dare return the favor.

      We are not fleeing to Nigeria and Britain in droves for acting jobs. When we did go to Europe, it’s expressing our culture, and not pivoting from Black Brits.

      Any foreigner we play is usually from an American backed movie, not Nollywood.

      We fought for over half a century for roles in OUR country, and even our own studios altruistically to foreign blacks. But we will not allow a labor system we fought against replace us for cheap, staled, bigoted labor like Erivo and her gal pals Luvvi and Orji.

      • Jasmine July 25, 2019

        You fail to realize Erivo is your people. She was likely cast because she looks like a slave of Hariett Tubman’s time period. Harriett’s parents were slaves and based on the years her parents would have been direct descendants from africa, meaning they were likely born in Africa. Just looking at Erivo’s face I see direct lineage to Africa meaning she was either born there or her parents were born in Adrixa. Black American stars are too pretty for this role. Even the homely ones try to pretty themselves up too much to pull off this role.

        We are all one. No such thing as a ‘foreign black’ in my book. I find that phrase racist and idiotic. Do u think black Americans are the only ones who endured slavery and suffering? Do you think black Americans are the only ones who deal with racism, discrimination, and socioeconomic oppression?

      • Harv July 25, 2019

        Jasmine, don’t disrespect my lineage.

        My family in 1850 and 1860 looked no different from my family today. Even those with African parents.   And don’t disrespect Africans with this “too pretty” ignorant comment.

        Everyone wants to be united when you can profit from  Black Anerican culture, but be offensive outside of that.

      • Jasmine July 25, 2019

        Harv this is not about you or your lineage. It is about Hariett Tubman. White have no issues with Europeans playing American whites in film. Black Americans have no problems with black Americans playing Africans or black Europeans in film. It is just acting and no one can dictate who a film director casts for a role unless they are the ones funding the project. Hariett has been dead almost 200 years and no black American film director has stepped up to make a film about her? Why is that? Black Americans like you need to stop whining and focusing on the small picture. If Erivo being in this film bothers you so much to whine change that whine into a shine and direct a movie of your own with cast you want in it. Whining about a project you did not fund is useless. Nobody is forcing anyone to watch the movie so don’t act like you have the right to dictate who can star in it.

    • Star Child July 25, 2019

      Akata does not mine I Love .

    • G November 3, 2019

      Learn the difference between defense and offense. Blacks in America have a strong defensive attitude for a damn good reason and it is for reasons featured in this film. slavery Then came Jim Crow after Slavery.

    • Jim November 3, 2019

      If black people are racist they learned if from who? Amerikkk?

  2. Clarkson July 25, 2019

    African Americans have issues, dear black people from Africa pls pay these descendants of slaves no Mind. their ancestors were weak that why they were captured and shipped to America to work on cotton fields.

    • Tyty July 25, 2019

      Haha I knew it you are that pathetic troll Jasmine omg you even used the exact same words ??? my goodness you really are a degenerate.

      • Jasmine The Real Princess July 25, 2019

        That’s not me. I would say it with this account since it’s my only one.

        Don’t be mad y’all are getting called out for being hypocrites. LMAO

      • Jasmine The Real Princess July 25, 2019

        P.S. 949 ??

      • Tyty July 25, 2019

        Whatever you gave yourself away using the exact same words

      • Jasmine The Real Princess July 25, 2019

        Mad there’s plenty of intelligent people unlike you?

    • Tyty July 25, 2019

      ”Mad there’s plenty of intelligent people unlike you” if you were intelligent you wouldn’t have further proved you spend all day on this blog trolling with different usernames using the exact same words and sentence structures. The people you refer to I’m assuming are your multiple personalities? Go head and spazz out on this blog I ain’t mad if I was a loose booty deranged lunatic with no life id develop different personalities too. No judgement on your coping mechanism.

      • Jasmine The Real Princess July 25, 2019

        Okay Onika. Lmao. 949.

    • Trash Tish July 25, 2019

      Nope. Weaklings are those who couldn’t make it ina Black Country on a majority black continent and even with their population numbers couldn’t stop colonization by whites and, currently, the Chinese.

      The nerve of thes bushes coming here generations later after selling us trying to fight us for our own culture because you can’t sell your own. Cultural parasites.

      • D July 25, 2019

        This. Leaving the US and moving to the UK at 18 showed me that black brits (and Africans in the U.K.) will take take take and employ whatever aspects of black American culture they want, but generally have no love / respect for or interest in black Americans. Crazy.

    • Kojo davis October 23, 2019

      You are as retarded as your statement but we know you cant help yourself since your people lived in caves and slept with wolves in the caucus mountains and it is documented by your own animalistic people that you did..this is the reason why your eyes are light colored because you lived in darkness. the cursed race can not stand the sunlight at it is written, if i go into the sun I just become more beautiful and handsome with my wonderful melanin magic skin, but you on the other hand get burned or cancer. Weak? To be brought to another country learn your pathetic language and in a few years by 20 30or 35 all o of america will be people of color which is what you fear but it is inevitable…your time is up…deal with colonizer!!!

    • G November 3, 2019

      Weak? No race that survived Slavery, Jim Crow and Amerikkk is weak.

  3. DC3 FOREVER July 25, 2019

    Makes me upset to be a black person. Now when the white people were upset about Halle in the Little Mermaid y’all were all “why does it matter” now a British person is playing a USA person I ask… why does it matter?

    I’ll still be supporting and watching

    • Nate July 25, 2019

      Comparing a fairytale to real life hero? Bad example.

      • Jasmine The Real Princess July 25, 2019

        Okay then why can BeYawnce do an Afrobeat album? She’s black but she’s American. ?‍♂️

        Not like a British BLACK woman ain’t living the black experience and knowing the struggles.

    • MCalling you h*** out July 25, 2019

      she Supported disrespectful notions about black American people so why she wanna play one?

      • Harv July 25, 2019

        It’s crazy how they overlook Erivo’s bad behavior to paint Black Americans as the bully.

      • Jasmine July 25, 2019

        Please provide receipts. I want to see what she said about black Americans instead of being told she said something. I did a google search and could not find it.

  4. Tyty July 25, 2019

    Always protesting and complaining on twitter and nothing else ??‍♀️?

    • Fancy BISH July 25, 2019

      The twitter no limit souljas are at it again ??

  5. XYZ July 25, 2019

    Gosh, people are crazy as hell. “She’s not black enough, she is top black, she is not american”. “Foreign actors steal pur Jobs!”

    I wonder how long it takes that people start to demand to reincarnate Harriet Tubman and let her play herself.

  6. L’ORANGE July 25, 2019

    I’m seeing a pattern. Every movie that caters to heroic blacks in American get sabotage. Black Americans ruin the Birth of a Nation and now they are trying to ruin Harriet. American blacks need to know their history and worth. Build your own and buy your own. Stop lettting whites play you and brainwash you

    • Skarr July 25, 2019

      We know our worth b****. That’s why we don’t want an Afro-British woman who has disrespected us and our culture to portray a Black AMERICAN hero. F*** what you heard!

      • D July 25, 2019

        THIS!!! ?

  7. Jjj July 25, 2019

    Wait now bites she’s a black actress to act for a role of a black woman the guy from snowfall black and British lets not do this

  8. Jj July 25, 2019

    Why is black panther cast not really African Africans could get mad at the accents but they black playing black although they should have got the actress on 911 to play Harriet t she was good as her last n the underground

  9. Venda dude July 25, 2019

    Americans cannot be upset, as i remember that nelson mandela was played by that guy from empire and winnie by Jhud and no one said s***, remember when will smith played that Nigeria guy doctor. Things like this is why black people are undermined by other races. How can we succeed if we dnt have each others back?

    • Harv July 25, 2019

      The only group that’s being undermined are Black Americans. MOST of those movies are American backed, and you ignore Erivo’s disrespect!

      We are not fleeing to Nigeria and Britain in droves for acting jobs. When we did go to Europe, it’s expressing our culture, and not pivoting off Black Brits.

      Any foreigner we play is usually from an American backed movie, not Nollywood.

  10. Holliewuudd July 25, 2019

    Stupid argument

  11. MCalling you h*** out July 25, 2019

    She co-signed someone saying black ppl
    Are jealous of Africans and y’all wanna see her represent y’all?

  12. Harv July 25, 2019

    Even Beverley Knight threatened to boycott thd MOBOs becausd it was too American-centric over a decade ago. And Black Americans didn’t mock Brits like Erivo.

    My culture is too precious to have Cynthia Erivo, who has disrespected my people, to play our historical giant Harriet Tubman.

    Actors like Erivo, and her white backing, leverage my culture for her personal ambition to get an Oscar, but spit on us and wouldn’t dare return the favor.

    We are not fleeing to Nigeria and Britain in droves for acting jobs. When we did go to Europe, it’s expressing our culture, and not pivoting from Black Brits.

    Any foreigner we play is usually from an American backed movie, not Nollywood.

    We fought for over half a century for roles in OUR country, and even our own studios altruistically to foreign blacks. But we will not allow a labor system we fought against replace us for cheap, staled, bigoted labor like Erivo and her gal pals Luvvi and Orji.

    • Jasmine July 25, 2019

      Huh? Sometimes we (black people) are really our own worst enemy. Is this really something to have an issue with? She’s another black woman, support her instead of finding ways to create unnecessary divisions.

      • Kristy November 16, 2019

        Thank you

  13. ERIC July 25, 2019

    I don’t have a problem with her playing the part. I have a problem with the movie making Harriet into a gunslinger action hero. The trailer doesn’t show anything worth supporting at the theater.

    • Jim November 3, 2019

      She was a hero and knew how to use a gun. We need to see more black women action heroes and not give the Klan an image of blacks as weak, slaves.

  14. D White July 25, 2019

    THIS IS SO DUMB.

    • Skarr July 25, 2019

      There would be no issue if she didn’t disrespect American Blacks!!!! Anyone who disrespects our culture does not deserve to portray one of US. Gtfoh

      • Jasmine July 25, 2019

        What exactly did she say about black Americans?

  15. Truth July 25, 2019

    Why these negros acting like they have lived through slavery … they are going by stories told just like she is.. nobody alive knew Harriet Tubman… so how can they say an American has to play her.. they always want to have something to be mad about… wasn’t y’all just mad at white people for boycotting Ariel… what makes this different?

    • Harv July 26, 2019

      Do what she did to the Jewish community and see what happens.

      It shows that you have no respect for black American culture outside of profit, coopting, and entertainment.

  16. C July 26, 2019

    Birth of a Nation – with Nate Parker should be required viewing before Harriet!!! Y’all want African Americans, but you don’t support them when they do something amazing! Make up ya mind!

  17. faith July 27, 2019

    This is a sad outcome of the black power movement and the black civil rights movement – essentially I think this bad situation boils down to discrimination and class division. I think this situation is the outcome of historic, deep-seated racisms against African Americans.

    I am British-Caribbean, living in the UK. I have visited the US regularly, and on every occasion, I have experienced prejudice against African Americans – as soon as a white American hears an English accent their attitude towards me changes almost instantly. They show welcoming smiles, ask me where I am from and ask me to say something in English. I have a friend in the reggae music industry who works as a freelance sound engineer in LA. He told me that the industry, in his experience, would always preference all other blacks over African Americans. He told me the racism against African Americans is deeply ingrained. This form of racial discrimination is very likely happening across all industries. Unfortunately, this serious problem has been hijacked by the vile, right-wing, anti-black, anti-immigration, Trump-supporting ADOS.

    I don’t accept Cynthia Enviro’s statement, which I very much doubt she wrote. The statement sounds as though it came straight out of a PR handbook. If you read it closely, you will see that it does not address what are legitimate concerns. The response, in essence, reflects the classic white establishment ideology, and not a position a socially or politically conscious individual would accept. What the statement does is to say that the actor in question won the role purely on merit – the US is, after all, a meritocracy. The definition is as follows:

    Meritocracy (merit, from Latin mereō, and -cracy, from Ancient Greek κράτος kratos ‘strength, power’) is a political system in which economic goods and/or political power are vested in individual people on the basis of talent, effort, and achievement, rather than factors such as heredity or wealth.

    I think most will agree that America is all about heredity, wealth and privilege, not merit. Also, meritocracy is problematic – it does not take into account racism, prejudice, class and moral and ethical issues.


    Is it possible that the actor in question is the one and only actor in America capable of hard work, talent and dedication? The decision had to have been a political one.

    • Bunnie M Jatkowski November 3, 2019

      Thank you for an honest and seemingly heartfelt commentary As I wrote before reading your comment; How could it be possible that there is not one African-American Actor in the US to embody the American-born African-American heroine, there is no way that is true

  18. Tyrone E. Holt August 11, 2019

    Yes, we need to boycott this movie and every movie, television series. First point: this British actress never took the time to study, research our historical sacred Female Moses. Secondly, ever since producer Ava DuVernay rs cast British actor and actress to portray the late Dr. Martin Luther King and his wife; white Hollywood announces that they to will hire more British and African men and women instead of African-American actors and actresses. That means the African-American actors and actresses will be out of jobs. They will not be able to provide for their families. These British and African actors and actresses truly don’t have a real connections with African-Americans. And in no certain terms will let African- Americans know where their stance are here in America. Too many of the actor and actresses roles are extremely negative. Even, the sci fi show Krypton has too man negative images of the African- American people, There is one episode of the children’ show Bubble Guppies were the dark skin Bubble Guppies are awkward and clumsy. The show is called “Space Guppies.” The famous author J.K. Rolling told Warner Brothers when they produce the Harry Potter movies -keep it British!. We are living in a modify versions of the 1950’s. In my hometown of wash. dc. Affirmative Action has eradicated many African-American Men from the news shows. There are more white women, foreign women on television then ever before. Diversity means that we no long have to hire African-American people. I can on and on with more examples; howevver, hopefully, my message is now clear.

    • Kristy November 16, 2019

      Maybe we needed an actress who has some distance and won’t take herself too seriously.

  19. Bunnie M Jatkowski November 3, 2019

    With the extremely high unemployment of Black(American) Actresses, something that is certainly known to the Director and former Actress Kasi Lemmons Why do Black American Directors (Ava Duvernay?; Selma) continue to push American Black Actors aside to hire British and other country’s Black actors really, why, I know, they are all busy. Even the best of them slip up in their “American accents” As long as ‘The Fire chief” on Chicago Fire has been on that show, he still slips up Anyway, it isn’t reciprocal with British Directors

  20. Rebekah June 24, 2020

    I really can’t understand people of color. I mean you have a protest for anything that don’t go your way, and it usually turns into violence. This article is about a woman of color being portrayed in a movie by a woman of color but she’s British. What’s the problem she is more civilized ? This uprising has gotten way out of hand people of color have the same rights and privilege as any other skin color. And let us not forget the first ever sold was sold by a man of color and they were freed by a white president!

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