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Ethnicity In Movie Roles Misses Definition Of Acting

October 19, 2020

If you have not heard of the international dust-up over a movie about Cleopatra means you are watching too much presidential election coverage in the nation. But given how absurd the news about this movie is means perhaps the campaign news is a better one to follow, after all.

It was announced last week that Gal Gadot will star in the new film about Cleopatra. But as soon as that news was released there came a downpouring of criticism that the Egyptian queen would be played by an Israeli. Oh, gasp!

As I read the news my dismay grew and grew over a bizarre argument in Hollywood over casting and identity, and whether actors should play characters of different ethnicities to themselves. There appears to be a very concerted movement among some in the industry to make sure dramatic roles go only to actors who check the same demographic box as the people they portray.

As a decades-long lover of film (especially the classic black and white films) it seems that debate flies directly into the fact of how acting is defined. How did it occur that an actress or actor could only be considered great at the craft of movie-making if the race or ethnicity of an actress matches that of the character?

So from this blogger’s desk here is my hope. I want Gadot to act with such power, punch, and artistic verve that no one sees her as anything other than Cleopatra. I want her skills on film too so marginalize this type of debate that we can put such conversations aside in Hollywood.

And scene!

Gal Gadot arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

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