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Angelina Jolie (left, in the role of Olympias) and entertainer Lady Gaga have been mooted to play Cleopatra -- but critics of Hollywood 'whitewashing' are suggesting pop superstar Beyonce instead. (Getty Images)

Whitewashing?

Rumors of a possible Cleopatra movie reignite debate about Hollywood ‘whitewashing’

January 18, 2019

Rumors of a possible Cleopatra movie starring either Lady Gaga or Angelina Jolie in the titular role has set the internet ablaze as fans of each star made their case — and critics of Hollywood’s “whitewashing” pushed for a darker-skinned alternative.

Uproar over the potential film, which has a barebones page on IMDb listing it as “in development,” was sparked by an article from British tabloid The Daily Star that claimed Gaga and Jolie were favorites to take on the role of the famous African queen. In response to the article, fans of Jolie shared images of the actress from the movie Alexander, in which she played Olympias, the Queen of Macedonia and mother of Alexander the Great.

Fans of Gaga, meanwhile, pointed out that the singer had form herself when it came to pulling off a regal look.

But that conversation was upended into a larger discussion about Cleopatra’s oft-disputed racial makeup. While it is largely agreed that Cleopatra was born in Egypt, historians have long believed that she had Greek heritage — descended from one of the ruling families of Ptolemy I Soter, a general of Alexander the Great’s whose dynasty ruled Egypt for three centuries following Alexander’s conquest of the region. But recent archeological evidence has implied that Cleopatra’s sister and mother each had an “African skeleton” — suggesting the legendary Queen and beauty symbol may actually have been dark-skinned.

On Twitter, many activists said that only a black women should be considered for the role — with icons such as Beyoncé and Rihanna considered by many as the obvious frontrunners for a role of such regal proportions.

Read the full story at Oprah Magazine.

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