Over 900 Black actors respond to racist remarks aimed at Black ‘Romeo & Juliet’ co-star: ‘We want to send a clear message’

Following the announcement of Francesca Amewudah-Rivers' role in the Shakespearean play, the actress has faced excessive online hate.

Francesca Amewudah-Rivers attends a BBC Three screening for Bad Education at the Curzon Victoria in London. Picture date: Wednesday December 13, 2023. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)

More than 900 Black women and nonbinary actors have condemned the racist backlash targeting actress Francesca Amewudah-Rivers, who is set to star in a London West End production of “Romeo & Juliet.”

Following the announcement of Amewudah-Rivers being cast as Juliet opposite actor Tom Holland’s Romeo, she was quickly met with online hate and an outpouring of racist comments. In response to the online harassment, hundreds of Black performers signed a letter of solidarity this week criticizing the digital abuse and extending their support to Amewudah-Rivers and other Black female performers who have endured harsh criticisms

“The racist and misogynistic abuse directed at such a sweet soul has been too much to bear,” the letter said. “For a casting announcement of a play to ignite such twisted, ugly abuse is truly embarrassing for those so empty and barren in their own lives that they must meddle in hateful abuse. Too many times, Black performers – particularly Black actresses – are left to face the storm of online abuse after committing the crime of getting a job on their own.”

Actress Susan Wokoma (from “Enola Holmes”) and playwright Somalia Nonyé Seaton (“Crowning Glory”) spearheaded the creation of the open letter, which has nearly 900 signatures from distinguished entertainers. Lashana Lynch (“No Time to Die”), Sheila Atim (“The Woman King”), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (“Secrets & Lies”), Lolly Adefope (“Ghosts”) and Freema Agyeman (“Doctor Who”) are among those who signed the agreement.

Last week, the “Romeo & Juliet” producer, Jamie Lloyd Company, released a statement responding to the negative reactions, pleading for the critiques to end. At that time, the company statement did not name Amewudah-Rivers as the subject.

“Following the announcement of our ‘Romeo & Juliet’ cast, there has been a barrage of deplorable racial abuse online directed towards a member of our company,” the statement read. “This must stop.”

Amewudah-Rivers’ past credits include appearing in the BBC series “Bad Education” and three short films. Her theater experience consists of “Macbeth,” “Antigone,” “Othello,” “Animal Farm” and “Ordinary Miracle.”

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