Samuel L. Jackson is crying about what South African actors have been crying about since the end of apartheid. We want to be the ones who tell our own stories.
When I see Idris playing Nelson Mandela, honestly, I am not overjoyed because I prefer Sello ka Ncume to be playing Mandela. I think Sello would have been spectacular. I thought Idris was okay. Sello would not merely act a part but he would be telling his own story as a SAn.
Jennifer Hudson acted Winnie Mandela and that film was basically sabotaged in SA because we want to act our own heroes and tell our own stories.
Well, Winnie was also trying to sue them because they did not have the decency to request her permission for the use of her story while she was alive.
To a degree though I can imagine that for an audience outside of South Africa, if Denzel plays Biko for example in Cry Freedom, the American audience find an access point to our story through the actor that comes from their context. And to some degree they are telling the story from their own perspective, experience and using their own money to tell it.
It is also their story because they were part of the liberation story protesting to Free Mandela far away from what our eyes could see. Maybe if we knew that we would have been more tolerant.
Yes Samuel L. Jackson is being attacked but he is saying nothing new. South African actors have been saying that for the last two decades. I’m not saying we should not act each other’s parts but there are sacred parts of our stories that need to be told with sensitivity. That sensitivity includes how you pronounce some words. It expressing certain nuances of the culture you are portraying. You do not want to insult the people whose stories you are telling.
I have not seen “Get Out” yet but I absolutely love the confidence of that Brit actor. I feel that the fact that he is not as affected by racism because of where he comes from makes the story more effective. What he hasn’t experienced in this regard adds a character that mocks racism. He makes the story great and I’m saying that just from watching the trailor.