Harriet Tubman’s great-great-great-grandniece, Tina Wyatt, wants you to know that the black community would have rioted over a movie where a white woman played the iconic activist.
Harriet’s relative spoke to TMZ and reacted to the story where an executive reportedly suggested that Harriet Tubman be played by Julia Roberts.
“We would have had a boycott, because our history was important and is important.” Wyatt explained. “For him to, whoever that was to say that we would not know the difference it’s just straight up disrespectful.”
Earlier this month, screenwriter and producer Gregory Allen, the mastermind behind Remember The Titans, and most recently Harriet sat down with Focus Features where he explained what went down while he was trying to bring the film to light back in 1994.
“I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, ‘This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman,’ When someone pointed out that Roberts couldn’t be Harriet, the executive responded, ‘It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference,’” said Allen.
Since the news broke out about Howard’s revelation, many have been voicing their frustration on social media calling the idea absurd and ridiculous.
But all can rest assured that Howard did in fact find someone to play Tubman. Nearly 25 years later he cast Cynthia Erivo to play the iconic role, and explained to Focus Features as soon as he saw her he knew she was the one.
“I first saw her when the other producers flew me to New York to see her in The Color Purple,” as soon as she opened her mouth, I thought, ‘Yes, that’s Harriet.’ Afterwards I emailed the other producers, ‘That’s Harriet. She’s a little stick of dynamite.’”
We would love to hope Julia Roberts would have turned down the role, but as of Friday afternoon, the actress has not commented on the topic.
Thankfully, the decision was made for Roberts, and for us, we still get to experience the theatrical experience of Harriet Tubman’s life.
If you want to learn about Tubman’s legacy, the movie is out in theaters now.