Queen & Slim has been in theaters for less than a week, and so far, it’s received generally positive reviews.
However, the film stirred up fresh controversy when Twitter discovered an old casting call for the role of “Queen” in the film, which was ultimately portrayed by Jodie Turner-Smith.
Under the role’s description, Carmen Cuba Casting relays they’re looking for a female between the ages of 20 and 35 who is “brown-skinned” and, theoretically, if “she were a slave she would’ve worked in the fields.”
Queen & Slim, which also stars Daniel Kaluuya, is based on an original idea from bestselling author James Frey, which depicts a first date gone wrong after a couple defends themselves against a police officer. The pair end up going on the run after and the rest had fans on the edge of their seats. The film was directed by longtime Beyoncé collaborator Melina Matsoukas and written by Lena Waithe.
Needless to say, the offensive description got Twitter heated.
Color did not determine duties. Dark skinned women (and men) worked in plantation kitchens too. Chopping wood, washing cauldrons, carrying massive platters from the outdoor kitchen...Frederick Douglas was one of many “yellow devils” who worked in the fields. This a whole mess. 😭— Lemony Britches (@AbenaGyekye) December 1, 2019
I mean, I’m no casting director, and I’m guessing they have a hard job finding a human to portray the imagined idea of a writers mind... but surely in 2019 there is a better way to make a call based on skin tone than slave comparisons.— Lili. S. D. (@LilTheTrill) December 1, 2019
Is Queen & Slim even worth seeing? 🤔 after seeing the descriptions of the casting I’m like ehhhhh...— ayonna🤩 (@AyonnaCrosby1) December 1, 2019
If they wanted to try and filter out certain physical features, they could have just written “athletic build”. 🤦🏾♀️🤦🏾♀️🤦🏾♀️— ♐️szn (@spreadoperator_) December 1, 2019
People love to exploit and benefit from Black American culture, while simultaneously insulting us and contributing to our erasure. pic.twitter.com/RFKtHQOAim— Black American Renaissance🤟🏾🇺🇸 (@barenaissance) December 1, 2019
So many other adjectives could’ve been used...but no this... is...what...they...chose...— Jennie Poo (@audaciousgirl) December 1, 2019
Was putting « dark skinned » too wide of a spectrum for them? Oh my goodness. 🥴— ChrissyMoney 💸💸💸 (@ChristianJaLon) November 30, 2019
This isn’t the first time a film’s casting directors fielded an actress using a racist description. Back when the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton was looking to cast “females of all ethnicities,” Sande Alessi Casting appeared to rank potential applicants by their skin color, calling for "A GIRLS," "the hottest of the hottest" that "can be [played by] black, white, Asian, Hispanic, mid-eastern, or mixed-race" women.
Subsequently, the listing became more specific of their breakdown of women:
“B GIRLS: These are fine girls, long natural hair, really nice bodies. Small waists, nice hips. You should be light-skinned. Beyoncé is a prototype here.
C GIRLS: These are African American girls, medium to light skinned with a weave.
D GIRLS: These are African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone.”
Do better, Hollywood.
Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images