Freida Pinto 'Reduced to Tears' After Journalists Drag Her For Playing a Black Panther

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 15:  Actress Freida Pinto attends Prada Presents 'Past Forward' by David O. Russell premiere at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel on November 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Freida Pinto 'Reduced to Tears' After Journalists Drag Her For Playing a Black Panther

The actress stars opposite Idris Elba in John Ridley's new mini-series.

Published April 9, 2017

Slumdog Millionaire actress Freida Pinto was out there last week promoting her new British mini-series Guerrilla, co-starring Idris Elba and created by 12 Years a Slave scribe John Ridley, when things took a left turn. At the premiere screening and Q&A in London, the star broke down in tears after a number of journalists dragged her for playing a Black Panther in the series.

Pinto, who was born in India, plays a British woman who leads a radical underground cell in response to police brutality in the Sky Atlantic series, inspired by the British wing of the Black Panthers militant black movement.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the filmmaking that caught the attention of many of the Black journalists and members of the UK's Black Lives Matter movement in the audience, who repeatedly asked why the protagonist was Asian instead of a black woman? According to The Independent, one audience member stated that by casting an Indian woman as the lead, "the drama 'erased' blackness."

Ridley said the series was based on historical research and reflected the diversity of the British Black Panther movement. including Mala Sen, who fought for the rights of Indian factory workers and helped inspire the character of Jas.

Visibly emotional, he said he chose an Asian protagonist because “I’m in a mixed race relationship and my wife is a fighter and activist. This is what we still have to put up with.” He continued, “If everyone already understood racism, oppression and its consequences, we should all be doing Dancing With The Stars. This story is going to cause consternation and hurt by design.”

The criticism from the audience literally brought Pinto to tears. “Black was not just the color of your skin, it was a political blackness at that point in time,” she replied. “We were all considered outsiders. For me it’s important that the conversation about diversity is inclusive and not just the color of your skin.”

Sadly, Twitter is not on her side for this one:

What do you think about Pinto being the face of the Black Panthers in John Ridley's new series?

Watch what other career moves Irdis Elba is making with BET Celebs, above.

Written by Evelyn Diaz

(Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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