Was Cleopatra Black? Egyptian broadcaster to release rival show with light-skinned lead

May 11 2023, 8:21 pm

Queen Cleopatra, a docudrama about Egypt’s last pharaoh, was released on Netflix in Canada on Wednesday.

The series has been stirring controversy since its trailer was released last month.

Some people are unhappy with the casting of Adele James, a Black British actor, as Cleopatra.

Over 10,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org calling for the show to be cancelled to “stop the falsification of history.”

The Egyptian state has been particularly outraged by James’s casting.

According to Variety, Al Wathaeqya, a state-connected Egyptian broadcaster, has announced it will release a rival Cleopatra documentary with a light-skinned lead.

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities released a statement that Cleopatra had “white skin and Hellenistic characteristics.”

But was Cleopatra actually white?

According to Oxford University Press, “the best evidence is that she was three-quarters Macedonian Greek and one-quarter Egyptian.”

Cleopatra VII was born in 69 BC, a descendant of a dynasty of Egyptian rulers that was founded by Ptolemy I, a Macedonian Greek.

Cleopatra’s grandfather had two Macedonian wives and at least one concubine who may have been Egyptian. Cleopatra’s father also had multiple wives, some of whom may have been Egyptian.

One TikTok user called out Netflix, saying that the new series was “not the Black representation I wanted or needed.”

@marshmallowmoney this is NOT the black representation i wanted or needed😡🤨 @netflix #cleopatra #cleopatranetflix #jadapinkettsmith #willsmith #blacktok #representationmatters #colorism #blacklivesmatter #blm #blackvoices #blackcharacters #tv #showtok ♬ original sound – Jianna Ewuresi

Educator Ahmadiyyah Shakur pointed out that Egypt was once called Kemet, meaning “land of the Black people.”

On The Daily Show, Dulcé Sloan joked that Egypt didn’t seem concerned about historical accuracy when The Mummy was released.

The director of Netflix’s Queen Cleopatra, Tina Gharavi, wrote in an op-ed for Variety, “Why do some people need Cleopatra to be white? Her proximity to whiteness seems to give her value, and for some Egyptians, it seems to really matter.”

Cleopatra was perhaps most famously portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor, a white British American actor.

“It is more likely that Cleopatra looked like our actor than Elizabeth Taylor ever did,” Gharavi concluded.

Harry LinleyHarry Linley

+ News
+ Movies & TV
+ World News
+ Canada