June 17th, 2010
12:12 PM ET

Backlash over Angelina Jolie as Cleopatra

The author of the biography "Cleopatra: A Life" may be hailing Angelina Jolie as the perfect choice to play the queen, but some folks aren't so sure.

On African American blogs and message boards, people are speaking out against the casting of Jolie in a role they believe should go to an actress of color.

Essence.com recently featured a commentary titled, "Another White Actress to Play Cleopatra?" where the writer opined, "Honestly, I don't care how full Angelina Jolie's lips are, how many African children she adopts, or how bronzed her skin will become for the film, I firmly believe this role should have gone to a Black woman."

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soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. Mark Wilson

    The famous Cleopatra was the seventh Cleopatra in the line of Ptolemy. The original Ptolemy was a general under Alexander the Great. When Alexander died the generals ruled different areas of the conquered lands, Ptolemy in Egypt. So why should somebody of Macedonian decent be played by a person of "color."

    June 17, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • FIGLU

      THANK YOU!! it's nice to know that some people actually have an educated response to this type of ridiculous article/post!! The writer of the ESSENCE.COM article needs to go back to school and re-learn world history he/she obviously chose not to pay attention in class that day!! If the actress can pull the crowds and play the role–then give it to the person who can do it!!

      June 17, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angela

      Not only was she not black, she was from a very inbred Hellenistic (Greek) line that did not even speak the Egyptian language. Cleopatra was the first in her line to learn it.

      June 17, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Solomon

      She would have been young and likely look more like rihanna, or brown skin abysinian and med mix. Go to the British Meseum, The New York Metropolitan Meseum, Le Louvre in Paris..Unless they painted themselvesdifferent shades of brown colours for sport they certainly did not look like PALE Skin European whose civilisation was not even literate at the time. Early Egyptians a mecca at the time like USa to the world and the nation almost like previous israelite nomandic tribes who came to live as thier slaves for 400 years. They mixed with other ethnicities, but the first rulers were predominantly Nubian/Abysinians, who lost and reconquered their lost territory a few times to more turkish/greek/mediteranean descended peoples... They wrote that their knowledge came from and that they were a colony from the source of the nile they wrote(the source of Nile is highlands of modern Ethiopia. People are racist from colonial miseducation however fact is Britian celts natives were illierate tribes when egypt founded all sciences as they were not discovered by roman empire yet, nor romans civilized from greek education as yet either.

      June 19, 2010 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Lucas S Mark

      A person of color shouldn't play a Ptolemy. I hate to read all these misinformed people who think they read a book that stated Cleo was black, brown, or tan.

      June 19, 2010 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
    • melvin jenkins

      for the same reason you people revere Al Jolson

      June 19, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • you lose

      A Picture is worth a thousand words look at a hieroglyphic. Paint doesn't get darker over the years it does the opposite it fades, not saying there is a picture of Cleopatra no more than there is an accurate picture of Jesus. Also why would people with strait hair braid their hair in twist and small braids in the same way people of African descent do now?Saying their was no ethnic mixing is equal to saying African-Americans in the United States just became lighter skinned because we no longer live in Africa. Truth is if the Egyptians were brown then Moses was brown and so were his descendants then the trouble really starts, This is just a prelude to the real myth that blonde haired blue eyed people don't come from Northern Africa.

      June 24, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • tinaru

      Truth is Cleopatra wasn't Egyptian or was she brown nor black nor mixed nor African. She was WHITE EUROPEAN and her Dynasty being royals and doing as royal have always done INBRED to preserve their royal bloodline. And white people have been braiding their hair since ancient times, or are you now going to also claim the Vikings who were in habit of braiding their hair were also black brown African mixed people too? I love how much of hypocrites African Americans are, when it comes to "proven" that ancient Egyptians were 'black' they post as evidence a bunch of ancient pictures of Egyptians, and yet they ignore the fact that ancient depictions from her life time that we have of Cleopatra that she had created very clearly show a WHITE EUROPEAN not some black brown mixed African chick.

      June 25, 2010 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. Don

    Right. Cleopatra was not black to begin with. She came from a Greek line.

    June 17, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Honesty

      why in the world would the eygptian africans in AFRICA let a greek women rule over the africa of africans i mean come on really are you being serious right now and plus that wouldnt make no since

      April 3, 2011 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. Guest 2

    every one that doesnt share your opinion is and idiot and must be white??? wht the heck does that comment mean ? I think she should be played by a short fat hispanic disabled woman! lets just get all the stero types in here! GOOD GRIEF!

    June 17, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shame

      LOL! I think she should be played by a Bollywood actress, then it can be a musical!

      June 17, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. lakisha38

    @Don do you know Cleopatra? Does anyone know what she really looks like? Based upon history Cleopatra was an African. She was not of Anglo or Greek decent please before you post something go read a book

    June 17, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mia

      She was not African. She was Greek. You need to read a history book. Cleopatra may have ruled an Egyptian dynasty, but she came from a Greek line of rulers.

      June 17, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • cvguy

      Contrary to what you have been told by organizations like the NAACP, or ethnic revisionists like Louis Farrakhan or Spike Lee; the ONLY time Negriod Africans, to use the old scientific term, ruled Egypt was during the time when the Kingdom of Kush invaded it. Other then that Egypt has been ruled by the various North African Arabs or Greeks/Macedonians.

      I might also add that No..African Negriods did not invent flight, Algebra, writing, or any of the other absurdities I hear coming from American Black Supremists. The people decended from Africans have a rich history...and it is sad that some are not proud enough of it and see fit to lie to make it more to their liking.

      June 17, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • lolita

      guess what - she was not african. she was greek.

      June 17, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dustin

      Actually, we know her ancestry pretty well. Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 BC, and after his death, Egypt came under the control of Alexander's general Ptolemy. His son, Ptolemy II, took over the throne upon the death of his father, and he married his sister as a concession to Egyptian custom. As far as we know, incestuous marriages were the norm in the Ptolemaic dynasty through its last ruler, Cleopatra VII, the woman in discussion. She is therefore highly likely to be the same ethnicity as the first Ptolemies, making her Greek. There has been some recent challenge that there may have been some African blood involved in some point, but the evidence for this is pretty scant right now, though this could change later. It really isn't justified to say for sure that Cleopatra was anything other than Greek.

      As for what she looked like, there are plenty of coins with her face on them. Take a look at this one: http://www.acsearch.info/images/1/8091.jpg
      That's a European nose if I ever saw one.

      June 18, 2010 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • paidattentioninthirdgrade

      You are wrong, and I bet you hear that a lot. You might pick up a real history book and read it before you make ill-informed comments, instead of getting your information from nail salon professors.

      October 19, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. W.E.

    Remember she did play the widow of pearl and that was black woman as well...that movie did not do well then what's to say this one will...how come white people can play whatever colour they want....is it because they can colour their skin, they sure can't act like them...how insulting for people of colour...

    June 17, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mona

    Im not white, I'm an Angelina Jolie fan....if you are so concerned about being politically correct than why dont you go make your own Cleopatra movie. Movies is a business. Studios go with you will bring the crowds. If you don't like the movie, than stay home but for heaven's sake stop complaining.

    June 17, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. shania twin

    PS in case no-one told you, Mia, there was tremendous mixture of 'races' in north africa at that time, it is likely cleo was a mixture of all sorts of people from all sorts of places. That is the way 'race' usually works, actually,. No one is simply one thing or another, sorry to disappoint.

    June 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. shania twin

    The point is who frigging cares what color the actress is, as long as she is talented?

    If you are so obsessed with the color of the actresses skin, white or black, you may want to check whether YOU are a racist.

    June 17, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pat Rabalais

    Cleopatra, both parents being Macedonian Greeks and not black so why can't a whte woman play the part maybe the African American blogs and message boards & the people over at Essence.com should get their facts straight before turning this into a race issue

    June 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • FIGLU

      AMEN TO THAT!!

      June 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cheryl

    OMG! Please lets care a "real" problems.......

    June 17, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. MarkInDallas

    It is truly sad that a commentator in a national magazine like Essence can make such a ridiculous statement without understanding the facts. As mentioned by others, Cleopatra was not black. She was Greek. In fact, she was probably the very first of the Ptolemy dynasty to even learn and speak Egyptian. There is one Egyptologist who recently proposed that she was of mixed race and commissioned a 3D reconstruction, but this bears absolutely no resemblance to the actual coins we have from the period that Mark Antony minted. Those actual coins show that she had very Greek features, with a hooked nose and traditional Greek hair from the period. The one thing I will say is that she wasn't at all the level of attractiveness of Angelina! This is sort of like Jonathan Rys Meyers (5'7") playing Henry VIII (6'2").

    June 17, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Stuart

    Huh? Will someone please tell us where to get some decent, non-cookoo science on what cleopatra looked like, before this gets any more silly?

    June 17, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mixed race

    why are we stuck on color America?? Cleopatra was of Macedonian decent...Egyptians are Arab...who cares who plays the role and what the color of their skin is. Isn't the story more important??? We have a huge problem and it has nothing to do with Angelina Jolie. And why all of the hateful remarks about what color the person should be? Whether she be white or black, why do we have to make it a white and black issues. Some of the people posting on here have a serious heart problem that causes a deep divide amongst our diversity in this nation. Land of the free???

    June 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dan

    No complained about Elizabeth Taylor. Why are people complaining now?

    June 17, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carter

      This is pretty sad...As a black male, I would like to see people doing their research more before making comments like this woman in Essence did...There will be no problem making Angelina a little tanner. Hollywood makeup does wonderful things. Have you seen her in her role as Mariane Pearl?

      June 23, 2010 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. Badriana

    If cleopatra's character is act by color of people, i dont think i wanna watch that movie.....

    June 17, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
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