It’s Here: Cynthia Erivo Stars as ‘Harriet’ With Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monae [WATCH]

by Krystal Franklin

July 23, 2019

Photo courtesy of YouTube screengrab

The trailer for Harriet, starring Cynthia Erivo is finally here despite the online criticism of the 31-year-old London-born actress being cast. Last year, an online petition surfaced, condemning Erivo from playing the American Abolitionist, to which she responded in an emotional post on Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

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. That can not be had in an Instagram post, what I will say is that my journey to this woman has been long and detailed and one I have not taken lightly. Nothing has been given to me without me first putting the work in, people speak of foreign privilege and truthfully life would be unbelievably easy if that were applied to me but that is not my portion. I fought for the role of Celie, and spilled blood sweat and tears playing her, the same applies for every role I’ve earned, this will be no different. I hope that I do everyone, even those who are in doubt or are upset, proud. I hope I quell your fears, because I understand that is what it is. I cannot tell how protective I am of this woman and her story. I posted this because I cannot allow people to make me neglect to celebrate this honor. This story has gone unnoted for long enough and @debramchase Daniela Taplin and @focusfeatures are the perfect home the beautiful way Kasi Lemmons has told this story is more than a blessing. I am glad to be given the opportunity to bring the life of Harriet Tubman to you. I would be lying if I didn’t make it clear that this is scary, and I thank you in advance for the support. Love you much. ALL OF YOU! Yours truly ❤️❤️

A post shared by cynthiaerivo (@cynthiaerivo) on

Good for her! The Tony award-winning actress will join Janelle Monae and Leslie Odom Jr. in the film, that will focus on Tubman’s life, including her time as a Union spy and her now-historic rise as one of the leading rescuers of the Underground Railroad.  Watch below.

Looks good, right? Unfortunately, the upset surrounding Erivo being cast is nothing new. In 2017 Samuel L. Jackson spoke out about Daniel Kaluuya (he’s also British) being cast in Get Out“There are a lot of black British actors in these movies. I tend to wonder what that movie [‘Get Out’] would have been with an American brother who really feels that.” He continued, “What would a brother from America have made of that role? Some things are universal, but not everything.”

Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

Kaluuya responded by saying, “I resent that I have to prove that I’m black. I’m dark-skinned, bro. When I’m around black people I’m made to feel ‘other’ because I’m dark-skinned. I’ve had to wrestle with that, with people going ‘You’re too black.’ Then I come to America and they say, ‘You’re not black enough.’ I go to Uganda, I can’t speak the language. In India, I’m black. In the black community, I’m dark-skinned. In America, I’m British.”

He does have a point. Harriet hits theaters November 1.

TELL US: Will you make it to the theaters to see Harriet?

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