‘Queen Cleopatra’ movies are being sued by an Egyptian lawyer.
As a result of the news that a Black actor will play Cleopatra, director Tina Gharavi wrote an essay for Variety in which she addressed the accusations that the historical figure was being “blackwashed.”
When the first promotional video for Season 2 of “African Queens” showed a black actor playing Cleopatra, the show received a lot of negative feedback. To this, Gharavi responded by calling the criticism she had received “laughable.”
At the time of the shooting, I was the target of a widespread online hate campaign. As far as the Egyptians are concerned, I “stole” their history and “whitewashed” it. People’s threats to ruin my professional reputation were funny. I was proud of how challenging I was being to myself. In spite of the fact that no Arab attacks took place throughout Cleopatra’s reign, some people continued to assume the worst of her. After arriving at his hotel in Cairo, Amir texted me, “Cleopatra was Greek!” Oh, my God! Why would you want it to happen, Amir? Gharavi was telling us, “You’re Egyptian.”
Despite acknowledging “what a political act it would be to see Cleopatra played by a Black actress,” she insisted, “historians can confirm that Cleopatra probably looked more like Adele than she ever did like Elizabeth Taylor.”
What’s the big deal if Cleopatra has dark skin? It’s puzzling that some people think Cleopatra must be white.Since she was so close to turning white, many Egyptians put a tremendous importance on her beauty, she said.
Despite this, many Egyptians have said the video changes the course of events. The Egyptian lawyer Mahmoud al-Semary sued Netflix on Wednesday because of the show. He insisted on an inquiry into Netflix’s business practices and called for the service to be banned in Egypt.
“Most of what Netflix shows on its platform goes against Islamic and social norms and values, especially Egyptian ones,” the lawsuit states.
To paraphrase Gharavi, “they are furious” because she “asked Egyptians to see themselves as Africans.” She insists she’s “okay with this,” though, and she gives as her reasoning “the internalized white supremacy that Hollywood has indoctrinated” in its viewers.
When it comes to depictions of historical figures, “we need to liberate our imaginations and boldly create a universe where we may investigate our historical characters without fear,” Gharavi said.
She stated her support for the film and its depiction of Cleopatra, adding, “I am happy to stand with ‘Queen Cleopatra,’ a fresh vision of Cleopatra. We invented an ancient culture, with a strong female figurehead, more than two thousand years ago. Connecting her with the Egyptian women of the Arab Spring and my Iranian sisters fighting a harsh dictatorship is important to me. Women leaders, both white and black, have never been more important.
The new season kicks off on May 10. Cleopatra herself, and the show’s director Jada Pinkett Smith, has said that casting a Black actress in the part was “important.”
My daughter and I needed to be exposed to the stories of Black queens because there are so many of them who should be honored. Smith said, “What’s sad is that we don’t have easy access to these powerful historical women who were the backbones of African nations.”