Home Entertainment “12 Years a Slave” Writer Accused of”Erasing” Black Women From His New Showtime Series
“12 Years a Slave” Writer Accused of”Erasing” Black Women From His New Showtime Series

“12 Years a Slave” Writer Accused of”Erasing” Black Women From His New Showtime Series


by TRN Staff Writer,

Director John Ridley’s decision to in effect “erase” a key female Black actress from a movie about the Black revolution of 60s and 70s may prove to not be one of his best decisions.   Essence.com  says the director is getting a lot of push back from viewers  who took part in a special screening of the series.  Many were upset that the movie does not feature a Black actress in any lead roles.

The six-part series stars Idris Elba as a London activist on a mission to free a political prisoner in 1970. Starring with Elba are Freida Pinto and Babou Ceesay.  At the special screening in London, one question kept coming to the forefront–“Where are the Black women revolutionaries...?”  As the director tried to evade a direct answer, the crowd became more persistent in getting a real answer from Ridley.  At one point, Ridley tried to deflect by saying, “If everybody understood racism, oppression… there would be no reason to be doing this show. We would be doing Dancing With The Stars.”

Another audience member again stayed with the question saying, “I’m not sure you quite answered the question – why are there no Black women at the forefront of the struggle? That doesn’t necessarily accurately reflect what happened in the 70s in the UK,”.  Audience members said what the series shows on screen doesn’t line up with people who actually lived through the experience have told them—like their parents.

Finally, Ridley answers, “ I don’t want to make this overly personal, but part of why I chose to have a mixed race couple at the centre of this is that I’m in a mixed race relationship.” But that is the very definition of  an “overly personal” reason because Ridley wanted the screen’s mixed relationship between lead actors to reflect his personal mixed relationship.  Things got even more personal as Ridley continued saying, “The things that are being said here, and how we are often received, is very equivalent to what’s going on right now [in the wider world]. My wife is a fighter, my wife is an activist, and yet because our races our different there are a lot of things we have to still put up with.”  At this point Ridley is said to be holding back tears.

Ridley’s decision to prominently feature a mixed couple in a love relationship is his choice as a director, but it doesn’t address his decision to leave Black women totally unrepresented from a cause that many were an integral part of.  To represent the historical time — as one audience member phrased it–  with “the erasure of Black women” causes the story to suffer in its impact because it opts to feature an actress of Asian descent as more important to the story than Black women who were living it. There is a Black actress in series, but she does not play an activist nor does she play a key protagonist role.

Ridley sounds like he’s endured some racism because of his mixed relationship and perhaps that would have been better expressed in a movie about mixed relationships. He could have written the screenplay for “12 Years a Slave” as a movie about mixed relationships, but it’s doubtful it would have earned nearly $200 million at the box office or brought home three Oscars. Ridley’s screenplay stayed true to the period and topic he was writing about…and that seems to be all people are expecting of his latest project.  It’s hard to have a series about Black political radicals without casting both Black men and Black women in key roles. Ridley’s limited event series “Guerrilla” premieres on Showtime April 16.




  1. I can’t believe some black writers think they have the ordacity to mess with the real nature the true historical story of the African descent, in the diaspora’s to suit their coward stance, in their life, in a so called by racial relationship.
    Trying to change history to give comfort to ones current circumstances is foolish. Smh

  2. Let me tell you something about India. There are millions of black people in India; they don’t identify as black. Some of these black Indians are just as black as Wesley Snipes. The paper bag test and the self hatred of melanin is worse in India than Amerikkka. Most Indians hate us because they hate themselves. Most Indians desperately want to be white. For John Ridley to cast Frieda Pinto in this tv show is insulting not just to black women, but to the entire black race.

  3. I didn’t like “Twelve Years A Slave”. I love Lupita, but I don’t undestand why she received an Oscar for her role. There was nothing significant about who she played.

    I’ve seen the commercials for this movie and I’m disappointed that the movie is based on the black revolution of the 60s and 70s which had no Indian participation. It was all about black men and black women. To read the truth as to why an Indian woman was cast instead of black women makes this movie a LIE!!!!

  4. One of the many unwritten rules in hollywood; “The black actress can never be more beautiful than the white actress.”
    This is why so many gorgeous black actresses have a hard time getting work in hollywood.
    I’ll take Tika Sumpter, Naturi Naughton and Jessica Lucas over Scarlett Johansson, Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence all day every day! #HollywoodHatesBlackPeople

  5. Black men loving, marrying and producing children with black women is a threat to white supremacy; therefore black on black love is a threat to Amerikkka. This is why hollywood constantly produces and finances movies like Loving, Something New, Monsters Ball and Free State Of Jones. Hollywood and the government doesn’t want to see the black man fall in love with the black woman. We didn’t see any black women in the movie Red Tails. We don’t see any black women in this television show Guerrilla. When was the last time a black woman starred in a movie that she played a strong, positive role? (Hidden Figures doesn’t count!)


    No black actress is a member of the $20 million dollar club. There are at least six white actresses who have been paid $20 million dollars for a movie. It’s a fact, black women get paid the least amount of money in movies and television; Monique was only paid $55,000 dollars for the movie Precious. When black women win white man’s false idol awards, it’s usually because they played a degrading and embarrassing role. Halle Berry winning the Oscar in the movie Monsters ball is a perfect example. In conclusion, we need to start making our own movies. These movies must showcase black women in a positive setting. We can not continue to beg white owned hollywood for work. Hollywood is white owned, therefore hollywood is our enemy. Boycott this trash television show! John Ridley is not part of the solution, he is part of the problem!

  7. John Ridley isn’t even old enough to know the struggles of the 60s and 70s revolution if he was born in 1965. So his show is DEFINITELY FICTION. As to what he is trying to address, yes, it was quite contentious for a ‘brother’ to be involved with or bed a sister of another color (race) while claiming to be ‘down for the cause. The Peoples’ Revolution fell apart because our brothers and sisters of other cultures had assimilated and were accepted, as a whole, when we were not.
    If he wants to tell his love story, maybe he should make it about all the revolutionary efforts going on at the time rather than trying to make it a half-assed ‘Black thing’. Otherwise he’s slighting the most powerful female revolutionary of the times, Ms. Angela Davis.

  8. John Ridley obviously hates black women. This black man wrote 12 Years A Slave, he probably hates black people. Any black man who loves black people would not have written an obscene, disgusting movie like 12 Years A Slave. John Ridley is another hollywood coon just like Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry and Will Packer.

  9. What are in this world are AFRAID OF? REMEMBER GOD MADE THE COLOR PEOPLE HE WANT AND LOVED. NOT BE JUDGED OR BE RACISM. In the future is going to be a HUGE problem that the world HATE dark ppls. GET A LIFE PEOPLE! !


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