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Cannes: black actresses protest racism in film industry

POWER: 16 black and mixed race actresses took protested against racism in the French film industry on the Cannes red carpet (Image: Eric Gaillard/Reuters)

THIS YEAR’S Cannes Film Festival was not short of political protests. Alongside Spike Lee’s condemnation of president Trump and white nationalism, black actresses took to the red carpet in a stand against racism in the French film industry.

The group of 16 women staged the protest against the prejudice they face at the hands of directors and casting agents who rejected black women from prestigious roles such as lawyers and also their tire of being asked if they can speak “African”.

Wearing dresses made by Balmain creative director Oliver Rousteing, the famous French film industry figures consisted of Nadège Beausson-Diagne, Mata Gabin, Maïmouna Gueye, Eye Haïdara, Rachel Khan and more.

Nadège Beausson-Diagne, who starred in France’s biggest-ever film at the box office, said that on one occasion she was told: “You can’t play her, she’s a lawyer”; “Luckily, you have fine features and you are not negroid, not too black” and “For a black, you are really very intelligent. You should have been white.”

The women are recent authors of the book entitled Being Black is Not My Job, which details the racism they have faced as actresses in France.

In 2012, Omar Sy became the first black person to win best actor in France’s César awards for his role in Les Intouchables. The César awards an annual Oscars-like ceremony began in 1976.

On Saturday (May 12), 82 women, including director Ava DuVernay, joined together on the Cannes red carpet to make a stand against gender inequality in the film industry.

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