Monday, June 17, 2024

Black Actors Denounce Abuse Towards Francesca Amewudah-Rivers Over ‘Romeo & Juliet’ Role

Francesca Amewudah-Rivers
Francesca Amewudah-Rivers attends a BBC Three screening for Bad Education at the Curzon Victoria in London. Picture date: Wednesday December 13, 2023. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)

*Several renowned Black actors have penned an open letter condemning the racist harassment directed at Francesca Amewudah-Rivers following her casting in a West End production of “Romeo & Juliet.”

We reported earlier that the Duke of York Theatre in London is defending Amewudah-Rivers after racist trolls labeled her as too “ugly” to portray Juliet in their latest production, “Romeo & Juliet.”

Amewudah-Rivers’ casting alongside Tom Holland as Romeo in the forthcoming theatrical production of “Romeo and Juliet” has created social media buzz, with many calling it “the worst casting ever for Juliet.”

The theater company reacted to the haters in a statement: “Following the announcement of our ‘Romeo & Juliet’ cast, there has been a barrage of deplorable racial abuse online directed towards a member of our company. This must stop. We are working with a remarkable group of artists. We insist that they are free to create work without facing online harassment. We will continue to support and protect everyone in our company at all costs. Any abuse will not be tolerated and will be reported.”

The Duke of York Theatre announced last month that Amewudah-Rivers will play Juliet alongside Holland as Romeo in the play which opens on May 23.

Meanwhile, Deadline reports that 883 people supported the open letter, which actress Susan Wokoma and writer Somalia Nonyé Seaton organized. 

“Too many times, Black performers – particularly Black actresses – are left to face the storm of online abuse after committing the crime of getting a job on their own,” the letter said.

“The racist and misogynistic abuse directed at such a sweet soul has been too much to bear. For a casting announcement of a play to ignite such twisted ugly abuse is truly embarrassing for those so empty and barren in their own lives that they must meddle in hateful abuse.”

It added: “Too many times theatre companies, broadcasters, producers and streamers have failed to offer any help or support when their Black artists face racist or misogynistic abuse. Reporting is too often left on the shoulders of the abused, who are also then expected to promote said show.

“We want to send a clear message to Francesca and all Black women performers who face this kind of abuse – we see you. We see the art you manage to produce with not only the pressures that your white colleagues face but with the added traumatic hurdle of misogynoir.”

Signatories include Sheila Atim (The Woman King), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Secrets & Lies), Lolly Adefope (Ghosts), Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who), Wunmi Mosaku (Damilola, Our Loved Boy), and Tamara Lawrance (Time).

Meanwhile, Tom Holland is being publicly slammed for not defending his co-star/ 

According to The Jasmine Brand, “Queen Charlotte” actress Arséma Thomas wrote on social media: “You lot need to put pressure pon @tomholland2013’s head* top – I need my guy to say something, ANYTHING, about the disgusting racial abuse being thrown at our angel Fran”.

READ MORE: Theater Company Responds After Racist Haters Call Black ‘Romeo & Juliet’ Actress ‘Ugly’

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