Judas and the Black Messiah‘s casting of Daniel Kaluuya as Black Panther revolutionary Fred Hampton is reigniting the debate around if Black British actors should play Black American figures.
The film’s director, Shaka King, talked about the discourse surrounding the casting in a recent panel ahead of the trailer’s release.
“I’m well aware of the debate around British actors playing American Black, iconic figures…But I was born in America, my family is Caribbean and I have a South African name so I am, literally, emblematic of a diasporic way of thinking,” he said. “Kidnapped Africans ended up all around the world. We have a lot more in common than people think, in terms of our experience and trying to overthrow white supremacy.”
“The Panthers, ideologically, were very international,” he continued. “So I can’t imagine there would be an objection. Maybe there would be, but I didn’t go into this thinking there would be.”
Hampton’s son, Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., added, “There is a legitimate question concerning people in the community: will the actor colonize that? And we would have and do hold them to a standard of respecting and being able to relate to the legacy of Chairman Fred, and not just with Daniel’s character.”
Hampton Jr. pointed out that this was a “global” story as there were international chapters of the Black Panther movement. He also said that he wouldn’t have allowed just anyone with the responsibility of the role of his father.
The film is set for release in 2021.
Photo: Glen Wilson/Warner Bros. Pictures