Judas And The Black Messiah director Shaka King has launched a staunch defence of casting British actor Daniel Kaluuya as Illinois Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton.
During a virtual panel to mark the release of Judas And The Black Messiah’s incredible trailer, King told Variety, “I’m well aware of the debate around British actors playing American Black, iconic figures. But I was born in America, my family is Caribbean and I have a South African name so I am, literally, emblematic of a diasporic way of thinking.”
“Kidnapped Africans ended up all around the world. We have a lot more in common than people think, in terms of our experience and trying to overthrow white supremacy.”
Over the last few years various individuals, including Samuel L Jackson, criticised the casting of Kaluuya in Get Out and Cynthia Erivo in Harriet, both of whom earned Oscar nominations for their performances.
David Oyelowo’s casting as civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr in Selma was also attacked, too.
But Shaka believes that the international ideology of the Black Panthers means that no-one should have an issue with their decision to cast Kaluuya in the leading role.
“The Panthers, ideologically, were very international. So I can’t imagine there would be an objection. Maybe there would be, but I didn’t go into this thinking there would be.”
It also helps that Hampton’s son Fred Hampton Jr was on set every day to make sure that Judas And The Black Messiah did justice to both Hampton’s and the Black Panthers’ legacy.
As well as Kaluuya, Judas And The Black Messiah also stars Lakeith Stanfield as William O’Neal, the undercover FBI informant who worked against Hampton.
Judas And The Black Messiah will be released in 2021.