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Cynthia Erivo criticised for playing Harriet Tubman

CRITICISED: Cynthia Erivo

BRITISH ACTRESS Cynthia Erivo has received backlash for her portrayal of Harriet Tubman in an upcoming biopic, with fans arguing her British heritage meant she never should have been cast.

Harriett, set to release later this year (Nov 1), tells the story of abolitionist Harriet Tubmen’s heroic escape from slavery and how she facilitated the emancipation of hundreds of slaves across the US.

The casting of Erivo, who is best known for her role as Cecile in The Colour Purple on Broadway and Steve McQueen’s Widows, has sparked controversy as many fans were upset that a British actress was chosen, as opposed to an African American one to take on the role of one of country’s greatest heroes.

The Harriett trailer was released earlier this week and reignited rage that began back in September 2018, when Erivo first announced she was going to take the role.

At the time, on Instagram she wrote: “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.”

Since the release of the trailer the hashtag #Harrietdeservesbetter has circulated on Twitter.

One Twitter user wrote: “NEWSFLASH: Stop supporting movies that feature continental Africans who PUBLICLY hate/look down on/disrespect Black American culture as Black Americans on screen. Stop ignoring the fact that ethnicity is a thing. Thanks #boycottharriet #harrietdeservesbetter"

Another said: “We called her Black Moses #HarrietDeservesBetter Put some respect on the name! She has been my shero from childhood to this very day! #BoycottHarriet"

Some even brought up Erivo’s old tweets where she mocked the American accent calling it “ghetto”:

“HARD PASS This girl speaks so disrespectful of harriet's descendants and our culture. she mocks slavery! #HarrietDeservesBetter

Others used the hashtag to defended Erivo. “People are so easily triggered these days. It’s a Hollywood film. It goes without saying that they took multiple liberties with the facts of the story,” said one social media user. “Who they cast should be the least of your concerns. To all those supporting #Harrietdeservesbetter".

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