Cleopatra from the new Netflix series by Jada Pinkett Smith.
Photo credit: Screengrab

Netflix’s ‘Queen Cleopatra’ Sparks Debate About Heritage

The Netflix trailer For the ‘Queen Cleopatra’ Epic has sparked backlash.

The Netflix Epic Queen Cleopatra, which is slated to be released on May 10 has sparked controversy in Egypt. The trailer for the docudrama premiered last week, and triggered a lot of dissenting opinions about Netflix's casting decision. The drama features Adele James, a British actor of mixed heritage, as Queen Cleopatra.

Some Egyptian academics argue that Cleopatra, who was born in Alexandria in 69 BC, was European, not Black. According to Variety, an Egyptian lawyer has reportedly filed a formal complaint asking for legal action to be taken to block Netflix entirely in Egypt, citing alleged violations of the country's media laws.

Although some scholars agree that Cleopatra was of Macedonian-Greek heritage on her father's side, her mother's ethnicity is unknown. The idea has caused some scholars to infer that Cleopatra's mother was African, making it possible that she had more than one heritage.

Zahi Hawass, a well-known Egyptologist spoke to the Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm and stated that Cleopatra was of Greek descent and had light skin, therefore, she could not be Black.

Amidst the saga, James has taken to Twitter to call out harsh critics, asking them to avoid watching the show if they disagreed with the casting choice. This is not the first time scholars have disagreed with the ethnicity of Queen Cleopatra. Plans for a Cleopatra movie, starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patti Jenkins initially sparked controversy, with some arguing that the role should go to an Arab or African actor.

Watch the trailer below.

Queen Cleopatra | Official Trailer |