CHANNEL 5 has sparked a race row after casting black actress Jodie Turner-Smith as Tudor queen Anne Boleyn in a new period drama.
The Queen & Slim star will play the second wife of King Henry VIII in the three-part psychological drama, Variety revealed.
Anne Boleyn is one of the most famous wives of the Tudor King, having caused Henry to controversially divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, before being executed for treason.
The drama will be from Anne's perspective during the final months of her life as she struggles to survive as well as protecting the well-being of her daughter – the future Queen Elizabeth I.
However, the news has sparked a race row about a black actress playing a prominent white historical figure.
One Twitter user wrote: "Anne Boleyn was white. A white person would not be picked to play a well known historical black person, it would be classed as white washing. The same applies the other way around in my opinion."
Another tweeted: "Anne Boleyn – 2nd wife of Henry V111 – both were white. If a white woman was cast to play Rosa Parks there would quite rightly be outrage. Similarly with this casting – it’s not acceptable."
Another added alongside a portrait of Anne: "What Anne Boleyn used to look like. Do we have to change the history books now and change every person to a person of colour."
But others disagreed with their view, with one replying: "What difference does it make to her story if she's played by an black actress? I'll tell you: absolutely NONE."
Another tweeted: "anna boleyn doesn’t need to be white, just in her paintings she was portrayed as white, being white has nothing to do with her at all, but martin luther king needs to be black, he was an amazing person who stood up for black rights and a role model for so many people."
A third agreed, writing: "Do some of the people leaving comments about this know what "play" #AnnBoleyn means? Next you'll be telling me Julie Andrews isn't Austrian!"
Despite the race row her casting has caused, Jodie – who is married to Joshua Jackson – is thrilled to play the famous Tudor queen.
She said: "I am so excited to join these exciting filmmakers in bringing the story of one of history’s most controversial queens to the screen.
"Delving deeper into Anne Boleyn’s immense strengths while examining her fatal weaknesses and vulnerabilities, Eve’s scripts immediately captured my imagination.
"In the hands of Lynsey Miller, the legend of this formidable queen and fierce mother will be seen as a deeply human story that is still so relevant for today.
"I look forward to bringing my heart and spirit into this daring retelling of the fall of this iconic woman.”
Channel 5 controller Ben Frow, who is also director of programs at ViacomCBS, added: “It is no secret that I’m a huge Anne Boleyn fan and we know she’s a proven success as a subject with factual and film audiences.
"This project re-frames her story as a propulsive psychological thriller, told from a new perspective, with top talent like Jodie Turner-Smith attached. It was simply too irresistible to say no to and I’m very excited to see the finished product.”
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