Posted on June 18, 2010

Casting of Angelina Jolie As Cleopatra Fuels Race Debate

Samantha Chang, Examiner, June 17, 2010

The news that Angelina Jolie has been hired to play Cleopatra in an upcoming biopic has some in the African-American community fuming that Jolie is “too white” to play the famous Egyptian pharaoh.


A recent commentary entitled Another White Actress to Play Cleopatra? insists:

“Honestly, I don’t care how full Angelina Jolie’s lips are, how many African children she adopts, or how bronzed her skin will become for the film, I firmly believe this role should have gone to a black woman.”


Another blogger wrote:

I don’t dispute Jolie’s dramatic skill but really, enough of this! This is Hollywood’s third time casting a White woman to play Cleopatra–in 1934, actress Claudette Colbert, in 1945, actress Vivien Leigh, and the latest, Elizabeth Taylor in a 1963 version.


A better question might be whether the gorgeous, slim 5’7″ Angelina is too beautiful and skinny to play Cleopatra, since historians who studied relics from her reign suggest she was “short, fat and homely.” Coins also indicate she had a pointy chin, thin lips and a hooked nose–a far cry physically from Jolie.

In addition, Egyptologists maintain that Cleopatra was a descendant of aristocratic Greeks and didn’t have any African lineage at all.