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. Mark10

    Interesting how blacks (am I allowed to use that word or will I be labelled racist) always complain the most about racial issues. Here is a suggestion, why dont you complaining black people go to black Africa and ask one of those multibillion dollar pruduction houses in black Africa to produce/direct a film where all actors can be black, using only black scripts, black sheets, black lights, black sand etc. Oh damn, I forgot, there are no multibillion dollar production houses in Africa... In fact there is very little facilities in Africa, that is why you are in America or UK or Europe. Can anyone spot the common denominator here...

    June 17, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • marie

      Mark 10-
      And here we go with the "Go back to Africa" if you are not happy. All of out ancestors were instrumental in building this country- hence slavery. I like when I read somewhere that Irish and Germans built the Empire State Building and other landmarks, but they conveniently did not give credit to the many African-Americans who helped out.

      June 18, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvin jenkins

      if your raping kidnapping foreparents hadn't taking us from our land so people like you could sit on your ass while we worked, we would know where we from and return home.

      June 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • tori

      If Black people go back to African all the good stuff will have to go with them, including the beloved White House b/c it was buit by slaves and music too! (damn), plus AC and dude I'm from the south so I would like to keep that it gets HOT here.(sarcasm) Black people as well as other races has given a lot to America and it wouldnt be what it is today (good or bad) if it wasnt for all of us. About the "poor" Africa thing, not all parts of Africa is "poor" there are progressive parts. The reason why some countries in Africa are poor is mainly b/c the citizens dont own the land (for several reasons and you should educate yourself) so they dont make profits from inport/outport. They have many valueable products that they offter the world from the land. I guess you dont travel much...

      June 24, 2010 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. hellae

    200 years from now, I hope when they pick someone to play PResident Obama, that actor would be a 5'2 Asian dude...

    June 17, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nadia

      Knowing Hollywood, the actor will almost certainly be Caucasian (i.e. not even slightly African American as all history of the president's race will probably be disputed by Hollywood then and Hollywood will go with it's usual choice).

      June 18, 2010 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Nadia

      LOL can you imagine? President Obama portrayed by a white male in a movie 200 years from now and then an online article from Essence (or the then-equivalent) expressing disappointment and saying that it is crazy because he should be black and it is a great opportunity to give the role to a black actor, and then the backlash that black people are calling the race card when really they are pointing out the truth and trying to help the black actors that are struggling for roles in a clearly racist industry.

      June 18, 2010 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Nadia

      As for the 5'2" Asian man... he probably wouldn't get a role in today's Hollywood unless it was a comedy. Again... Hollywood is so racist, it's ridiculous.

      June 18, 2010 at 5:40 am | Report abuse |
    • rja

      In 200 years they will be doing a remake of "Fools Rush In"? It's not that good a movie

      June 18, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. shanai twin

    Who cares what color cleo was, she was like a teenager when she slept with the Caesar. How do you know that john voigt and Jolie's mom don't trace their ancestry back to the same macedonian area?? How do you know that three or four generations back in Cleo's family we don't have the exact shame genetic pool?

    How can something so stupid such as the skin tone of these people still mean so much to so many of you in terms of self-worth and self-love? It's 2010, make your own meaning, find validation in something more than your skin color.

    June 17, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheron

      I agree with the teenager part! This is sooooo being overlooked! I think they should look to young Hollywood for an actress to play this part. Angie is too old and lack the young type of aggressive feeling that is needed. Let young Hollywood have a chance at it! I also think that Brad has missed his days, and should aspire in other rolls. Again, I say let young Hollywood have a chance. I am an Angie fan, but honestly, I am tired of her in these types of rolls, we need a new fresh look and there is a hungry young Hollywood out there!

      June 18, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. blake

    Cleo was at the very least 7/8 Macedonian by most accounts. Rita Moreno gripes about Natalie Wood getting the role of Maria in West Side Story. That is because she is jealous of her performance. A black guy in Sherwood Forest is as inaccurate as Kevin Costner's accent in that version of Robin Hood. As Jon Lovitz, says it's called, "Acting!" Leonard Nimoy is not Vulcan, or is he?

    June 17, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cleopatra was Macedonian and Macedonians are NOT black

    Cleopatra was Macedonian. She came from the Ptolemiac dynasty of Macedonia. Macedonians were and still are white. In fact, most Macedonians had and still have light eyes, pale skin, and lighter hair. People please learn some history before you post crap like this.

    June 18, 2010 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. Nadia

    Will Hollywood ever make it a priority to be more accurate and to diversify lead roles? I will be missing this movie... they should have cast a woman of color because that is what Cleopatra was. Hollywood is so racist it is ridiculous. I'm not surprised. I just hope that it will be different someday.

    June 18, 2010 at 5:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Dustin

      Actually, she was part of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, and as far as we know, from Ptolemy II onwards, they kept up the old Egyptian practice of marrying their siblings, so she's likely the same ethnicity as Ptolemy II, which is Macedonian. This is backed up by coins, which show European features, such as a large, curved nose. So it's unlikely that Cleopatra was a woman of color.

      June 18, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • jenb

      Dustin is correct. Cleopatra was of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a GREEK royal family.

      June 18, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bucketoftea

    The remains of Cleopatra's sister Arsinoe were found in Turkey and her skeleton was said have African features, but neither she nor Cleopatra were ever described as African. Contemporary representations of Cleopatra all show a much-more Greek look....big nose and all.

    June 18, 2010 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
  8. bucketoftea

    ...and it's only Hollywood...not known for historical accuracy...

    June 18, 2010 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. marie

    Her bloodline would have been preserved? Her family was there for 300 years. You are not telling me that they did not have affairs with slaves and there were not people who lied about who the father was yada yada yada back in those days LOL. For some reason when it comes to race, white people act like race is set in stone. Race, first of all, is man-made. Look at Heather Locklear, Mariah Carey, and Wentworth Miller- all who have African blood, but look like what white people consider "full white" Many ancients intermixed like it was nothing. They probably were not as concerned with color as we are today, but rather class.

    June 18, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. lucinda

    Cleo was Greek, yes. ok, uhmmmm, OH, OH, I know Jennifer Aniston is Greek, yes?

    June 18, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Curmudgeon

    Unless it's an all-black cast, most African-Americans don't spend money at the movies anyway. The studios wanted this to make money, not a statement.

    June 18, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvin jenkins

      Maybe we are sick of white folklore topics, and how insugnificant most of your topic are.

      June 19, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • belle

      Black ppl dont spend money at the movie...Good Tyler Perry didnt listen to ppl when they told him the same thing.

      June 24, 2010 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mary

    Angelina is perfect...No matter Race.... Good Luck

    June 18, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sally

    Cleopatra was NOT black. Look at her image on her coin. She wasn't even pretty. I read once that it was her intellect that made her Cleopatra so attractive but it also described her as a selfish "B", who was an extremely self indulgent individual. She would do anything to get her own way including marrying her brother. She would run over anyone in her way and not care what lives she destroyed or who was harmed. WAIT a minute, Angelina is perfect for the role.

    June 18, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvin jenkins

      coins printed by whites no thanx

      June 19, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. meech

    this is why the black community cannot be taken seriously. All this nonsense (Clleo was black; Socrates was black and Aristotle stole his idea's from the library at Alexandria) is just wrong. There is no proof at all that Cleo was black, in fact all the evidence points to Cleo being Greek..

    June 18, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvin jenkins

      spoken like a true culture thief

      June 19, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Robin

    When I read this article, I confess, I was a little surprised they were spending so much time arguing over the color of Cleopatra's skin. Cleopatra was a Ptolemy—Greek. I don't have a problem with the color of Angelina Jolie's skin suiting the role of the most famous female Egyptian pharaoh. I don't even doubt Jolie can pass herself off as one of the most highly-educated women of that era. But I do question whether they should be casting a woman of such unquestionable and surpassing beauty in the role of Cleopatra. After all, the REAL Cleopatra was reported by her contemporaries to be a woman of ordinary, even unremarkable appearance. What made Cleopatra's beauty the stuff of legends was her inner beauty—that certain je n'sais quoi that made her stand out as extraordinary.

    I do believe Hollywood would have done better to go through a thousand auditions until they found a relative unknown with some of that same magical, charismatic appeal—a unique and interesting face to capture our imaginations and allow Cleopatra's true beauty to shine once more.

    June 19, 2010 at 6:39 am | Report abuse |
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