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Oscar winner engages in heated debate about a lack of black women in his new Sky series



John Ridley (12 Years A Slave) faced some tough audience questioning at last night’s premiere of his new Sky Atlantic series Guerrilla (premieres April 16 on Showtime)

Indian actress Freida Pinto stars as Jas Mitra, an Asian woman at the centre of the conflict who drives much of the narrative.

[the only prominent black woman character]the only prominent black female character in episode one is an informer against the movement for a racist, white police officer.


Journalist
“My parents were a part of that movement [black power]. I want to understand why you decided [to make] an Asian woman the main protagonist.”
“I understand the contribution of Asians to this, but having an Asian protagonist making all the big decisions… does that get explained in subsequent episodes? We can’t ignore that,”

Ridley
“To me, everything that you’re saying is exactly why that decision is so important. The fact that it’s difficult to accept someone, even though they are of colour, of being with us…”

Journalist
“I don’t find it difficult to accept, I’m just trying to understand,”

Ridley
“If everybody understood racism, oppression… there would be no reason to be doing this show. We would be doing Dancing With The Stars,”
“If there are things that are difficult to understand, accept, rationalise, despite the fact that if you understand the struggles of that time period… those elements are not made up, those are real,”
“If there are any aspects of my show that are difficult to understand or accept, I feel I have done my job. It is an incredibly valid question, but please accept that my answer is equally as valid.”

Journalist
“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.”

Babou Cesay(one of the male leads)
“Wow, really? You know this because you read about it?”

Journalist
“No, we know this because our parents were a part of it,”
“the erasure of black women”

Ridley
“I said previously, I think the characters in this story are complicated across the board, so the concept that any one person is somehow better, or more elevated, or more appropriate than any other individual, I’m sorry, I don’t accept that."
“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. 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.”
“This is one of the proudest moments of my entire life. This cast, this crew, the people involved in this show are the most reflective cast and crew that you will find anywhere. I’m sorry I cannot entertain a dialogue about whether the lead character in this show should be black or Asian – the lead character in this show should be a strong woman of colour,”

Neil Kenlock (photographer)
“I am probably the only person [here] that was in the Black Panthers, and what John [Ridley] did was exactly spot on. We had an Asian woman, and she was extremely active, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with what I’ve seen today.”

Pinto(at the premiere, not during the Q&A)
“What I understood after speaking to John [Ridley] was that black was not just the colour of the skin. It was political blackness, the oppressors and the oppressed, they were from former colonies and India was one of them."
“When we talk about diversity, not just here but in America, I find it non-inclusive when we don’t talk about the other people from other parts of the world, including the Asian population,”


source
Tags: black celebrities, freida pinto, race / racism, television - showtime
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