The decision to cast Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman in the Harriet biopic is continuing to spark controversy. Many people are upset that the producers cast a British Actress instead of an African American actress to portray one of America's greatest heroes. The backlash has even brought up old tweets from Erivo mocking a "ghetto American accent," which has several critics threatening a boycott of the upcoming highly anticipated biopic. On the other side of the argument, Harriet is generating Academy Awards buzz due to Erivo's performance.
The Harriet trailer was released earlier this week and some people can't get past the fact that Cynthia Erivo is a British Actress. This isn't a new thing for the movie. The controversy first arose back in September 2018 when it was first announced Erivo was cast in the role and it has risen back up with the recent trailer reveal. "We will not allow the hype of a prestige film to compromise our sacred ancestor Harriet's legacy," says one critic on social media, which also includes the hashtag, "Harriet Deserves Better." The same person had this to say.
"So once again, Harriet Tubman's life is an expression of so much that makes African-American descendants of chattel slavery a unique people with a unique lineage, culture & history... How can you portray her when you dismiss and disrespect that unique lineage, culture and history?"
The "Harriet Deserves Better" hashtag has started trending on social media as more people chime in about the Harriet casting in the biopic. A similar situation popped up when British actor Daniel Kaluuya was cast in Get Out, Jordan Peele's horror movie about racism in America. However, people seem to more upset with Cynthia Erivo's casting in Harriet. One critic explains.
"Yea, I ain't watching this either. We are tired of our American roles going to people who don't have the same lineage of the characters they are portraying. It's like a dog playing the role of a cat."
Cynthia Erivo's past tweets mocking American culture is another reason critics want to boycott Harriet, with many quoting the aforementioned "ghetto American accent" tweet. Whatever the case may be, there are more people who are completely fine with the situation and see some Academy Awards in the future for Harriet and star Erivo. Making the movie in the first place is a controversial decision because it's going to be hard to get it right and satisfy everybody.
Cynthia Erivo has already won Emmy, Grammy, and Tony awards for her work on Broadway's The Color Purple. This means she's only an Oscar away from joining the rare EGOT club and it's starting to look like Harriet might bring her the last award she needs. With that being said, the controversy of her casting is still causing controversy online. You can check out the trailer below, thanks to the Focus Features YouTube channel, along with some critical tweets.