800 Actors Condemn ‘Too Familiar Horror’ of Racism Against ‘Romeo & Juliet’ Actress Francesca Amewudah-Rivers

“The racist and misogynistic abuse directed at such a sweet soul has been too much to bear,” reads an open letter in support of Tom Holland’s costar

Francesca Amewudah-Rivers and Tom Holland
From left to right: Francesca Amewudah-Rivers and Tom Holland

Over 800 actors, a majority of whom are Black, female and non-binary, signed an open letter supporting Francesca Amewudah-Rivers after she was the target of online racism following her casting in a new production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet.”

Among the signatories are Susan Wokoma, Freema Agyeman, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Lolly Adefope, Chinenye Ezeudu, Lashana Lynch and Sophie Wilde, to name a few.

“Many of us took to social media to shower our baby sis with love and congratulations — a huge deal for someone so young in their career. A huge rising talent,” the letter reads. “But then what followed was a too familiar horror that too many of us visible Black, dark skinned performers have experienced. The racist and misogynistic abuse directed at such a sweet soul has been too much to bear.”

Amewudah-Rivers was cast in Jamie Lloyd’s production of the tragic romance as Juliet alongside Tom Holland (“Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “The Crowded Room”) as Romeo.

“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,” the letter continues. “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 Jamie Lloyd Theater Company released its own statement on Instagram denouncing the “barrage of deplorable racial abuse” that followed the announcement of Amewudah-Rivers’ casting. Wokoma and writer Somalia Nonyé Seaton’s letter welcomed the response.

“This Must Stop,” the statement reads in bold. “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 12-week run of “Romeo & Juliet” is already sold out.

Comments

One response to “800 Actors Condemn ‘Too Familiar Horror’ of Racism Against ‘Romeo & Juliet’ Actress Francesca Amewudah-Rivers”

  1. Tim Avatar
    Tim

    If the complaint is that she’s not Italian, neither is Tom Holland; if the complaint is, she isn’t 13 like in the original story, Tom Holland isn’t 16 like in the original story; if the complaint is that she’s not from Verona, neither is Tom Holland; if the complaint is that they should stick to the original play, I don’t think Tom Holland is going to disembowel himself on stage. If the complaint is that she’s black, then that’s a personal problem, and chances are you wouldn’t be going to see it anyway. So should anybody be concerned?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.