Update: Egyptian Broadcaster To Make Its Own ‘Queen Cleopatra’ Series w/ Light-Skinned Star After Netflix Cast Black Actress In Leading Role

Adele James

Update: Egyptian Broadcaster To Make Its Own ‘Queen Cleopatra’ Series w/ Light-Skinned Star After Netflix Cast Black Actress In Leading Role

 Update: (May 10, 2023): Seems like some people are still upset by the recently released season of Netflix’s series “African Queens.”

Last month the historical docuseries — which is executive produced by Jada Pinkett Smith — faced backlash amid the release of the trailer for the second season. Egyptian critics blasted Netflix for casting British actress Adele James, who has brown skin and is of mixed heritage, as Queen Cleopatra. Reportedly, naysayers are not pleased a melanated woman landed the leading role because they claim Cleopatra belonged to a Greek-speaking dynasty and was of European descent.

According to new reports, an Egyptian broadcaster — the Al Wathaeqya channel — is so turned off by Netflix’s depiction of Cleopatra that the network has decided to fund its own high-end docuseries about the Queen. A statement from the network claims the production will be based on the “utmost levels” of research and accuracy.

Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, the government entity in charge of heritage, stated via Twitter that:

“Statues of Queen Cleopatra confirm that she had Hellenistic (Greek) features, distinguished by light skin, a drawn-out nose and thin lips.”

However, the director of Netflix’x show, Tina Gharavi, defended the casting in an op-ed piece published last month. Gharavi questioned:

“Why do some people need Cleopatra to be white?”

Gharavi continued:

“Perhaps it’s not just that I’ve directed a series that portrays Cleopatra as Black, but that I have asked Egyptians to see themselves as Africans, and they are furious at me for that.”


Original story: (Apr. 20, 2023): 

Egypt is reportedly in shambles after Netflix dropped the trailer for their upcoming docu-series “Queen Cleopatra”.

According to reports, some Egyptian’s have condemned the project for “inaccurately” portraying the famed Egyptian queen as a Black woman. The series stars British actress Adele James.

Adele James as Queen Cleopatra

According to reports, academic professionals in Egypt have been denouncing the project, which is executively produced by movie and TV star Jada Pinkett Smith.

Jada Pinkett-Smith

They argue that Cleopatra was of European descent and not Black. One lawyer even took it as far as reportedly filing a complaint to have the Netflix original blocked outright, claiming it violates the country’s media laws. Additionally, a prominent Egyptologist reportedly told news outlets:

“This is completely fake. Cleopatra was Greek, meaning that she was light-skinned, not Black,”

Despite arguments, there has reportedly been long debate about the queen’s genealogy. It’s said that while her father was undoubtedly Macedonian-Greek, Cleopatra’s mother’s origins remain unknown. Thus, it’s been widely speculated she could partially be of African descent. When speaking on her decision to cast Adele James in the leading role, Jada Pinkett Smith reportedly stated:

“We don’t often get to see or hear stories about Black queens, and that was really important for me, as well as for my daughter, and just for my community to be able to know those stories because there are tons of them!,”

Jada Pinkett-Smith

Following backlash, James took some time to respond to a few online trolls, making it clear her block button is strong. She wrote:

“Just FYI, this kind of behaviour won’t be tolerated on my account. You will be blocked without hesitation!!! If you don’t like the casting don’t watch the show. Or do & engage in (expert) opinion different to yours. Either way, I’M GASSED and will continue to be!”

“Queen Cleopatra” is set to air May 10th.


What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments! 

Authored by: Kay Johnson