Target: Sky Arts Head of Entertainment, Phil Edgar-Jones
Goal: Cast racially-appropriate actor as Michael Jackson in upcoming film.
British arts network Sky Arts has cast a white actor as Michael Jackson for the developing TV movie called “Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon.” The film will chronicle a road trip that Jackson took with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando in 2001. British actor Joseph Fiennes was cast as Jackson, which was surprising to him.
The casting of Jackson is difficult, as a disorder took all of the pigmentation from his skin, and the film takes place long after that had happened. But Jackson was black, and always asked to be seen that way. In a pivotal interview with Oprah Winfrey, Jackson said, “I’m proud to be a black American.”
The movie is from an upcoming series of films about odd events in pop culture. Fiennes has defended his casting, saying Jackson was closer to his color than his original color, and Sky Arts have defended itself by saying the filmmakers have creative control over casting.
It is disrespectful to Jackson to have him portrayed by a white man, especially in a climate where black actors already struggle for roles. Please let Sky Arts know they should reverse this casting decision.
Dear Mr. Edgar-Jones,
As the Head of Entertainment for Sky Arts, it is your responsibility to oversee creativity and production at your network. The filmmakers of the upcoming release “Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon” have cast white actor Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson, and it is an upsetting casting decision.
This is not to discredit Fiennes, who was surprised at the decision. Jackson was always proud to call himself a black man, even after a disorder turned his skin white, and he has publicly said that he never wanted a white man playing him. His disorder makes a tough casting, but this could be a great opportunity for a black actor.
There is already a lot of turmoil over the lack of opportunity for black actors, and casting a white man as Michael Jackson is insulting to the black community. Jackson should be represented the way he would’ve wanted to be. The filmmakers might have creative control over the film, but it is time to intervene and cast an actor who might be more appropriate for the role.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Sila