Netflix Receives Backlash Over Depicting Cleopatra as a Black Woman

Netflix Receives Backlash Over Depicting Cleopatra as a Black Woman

...By Jack Sylva for TDPel Media.

Netflix faced severe backlash after releasing a teaser trailer for its new docu-series Queen Cleopatra, produced by Jada Pinkett Smith.


The series follows the final pharaoh of Egypt, Cleopatra, as she fights for her right to the throne, with British actress Adele James cast in the eponymous role and Craig Russell playing her lover, Mark Anthony.

However, subscribers were furious after the trailer depicted Cleopatra as a Black woman, despite historical records pointing to her having Macedonian Greek heritage.

Controversy Surrounding Cleopatra’s Heritage


The show’s synopsis said that the new series re-assesses Cleopatra’s story, which has been the subject of much academic debate that has often been ignored by Hollywood.

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According to, Cleopatra was not ethnically Egyptian, but she embraced many of her country’s ancient customs and was the first member of the Ptolemaic line to learn the Egyptian language.

However, her family tree has blanks, and no one knows where Cleopatra’s mother or paternal grandmother came from.


Professor Duane W Roller from Ohio State University suggested that by the time of Cleopatra’s grandparents, there may have been an Egyptian element.

However, some people claimed that it was a misinterpretation to claim Cleopatra could have been Black.

The Backlash Against the Teaser Trailer

The teaser trailer has received over 260,000 dislikes on YouTube, with only 23,000 likes, prompting Netflix to disable the comments entirely.

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The backlash comes amid an ongoing debate about representation and historical accuracy in films and TV shows.

Lead actor Adele James responded to abuse from trolls on Twitter, stating that she would block anyone who engaged in unacceptable behavior.

She encouraged those who do not like the casting to not watch the show or engage in different expert opinions.



The backlash against the Cleopatra teaser trailer highlights the continuing conversation about representation in Hollywood and the significance of accurately portraying historical figures on screen.

While it is essential to provide opportunities for actors of all ethnicities to portray historically significant characters, it is also essential to be mindful of the accuracy of the portrayal.

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While some historical records suggest that Cleopatra could have had an Egyptian heritage, many argue that this depiction is historically inaccurate.

However, it is also important to remember that art is a form of interpretation and that the portrayal of Cleopatra as a Black woman may be an attempt to shed new light on a story that has been told many times.

The backlash against the trailer also highlights the need for respectful dialogue and behavior on social media, where anonymity can often lead to abusive behavior.


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