This is not a new story, but it is a complicated one.
Because while Cleopatra ruled over Egypt, there has long been debate over whether she had African ancestry, given that she hailed from a long line of Macedonian Greeks. (As a geography reminder, Egypt is located on the continent of Africa.)
But the issue is bigger than just one role.
“Color-blind casting,” as it has come to be known, has both its critics and its supporters for myriad fair and important reasons.
Here are a handful of casting choices that have inflamed public feeling against Hollywood.
Jake Gyllenhaal: Folks were none too happy when the actor played the lead role in the 2010 fantasy film “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.” Gyllenhaal didn’t love it, either.
Leonardo DiCaprio: All it took was for Oscar-winning screenwriter David Franzoni to publicly express interest in DiCaprio playing 13th-century Persian poet and scholar of Islam Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi for people to be up in arms in 2016. For the record, DiCaprio has not been cast in the role.
The reality is that if Hollywood were a level playing field, we would be at a place where the argument could be made that all roles should be open to anyone and may the best person be cast.
But we aren’t there yet.
And until we are, there will continue to be consternation — especially from those craving better representation.
For your weekend
Three things to watch:
‘A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote’
There is no way to escape politics this year, even if you wanted to.
I, for one, will welcome the calming influence of Martin Sheen as President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet.
Amazon bills this as an “intimate yet epic love story filmed over two decades,” in which “indomitable matriarch Fox Rich strives to raise her six sons and keep her family together as she fights for her husband’s release from the Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola.”
For anyone who wants to be reminded of the power of love, “Time” starts streaming on Amazon Prime Friday.
‘Batman: Death in the Family’
Will Robin die or live another day to assist the Dark Knight?
You tell us, since the ending is up to you.
“Batman: Death in the Family” is available on Blu-ray or for digital download.
Two things to listen to:
Shout-out to my fellow Baltimore native Mario, whose new album, “Closer to Mars,” drops on Friday.
I’ve been following his career since 2002, when as a teen he burst on the scene with the hit R&B single “Just a Friend.” Just last week, I cued up his ballad “Let Me Love You” to test our new surround system.
“People create from a different space today. A lot of our music is influenced by the culture, whereas before we’re influencing the culture,” he said.
“Now, we’re influenced by what we hear. ‘Okay, this is going to work for TikTok’ or ‘this is going to work for this or that playlist’ — in the mainstream. There are a lot of artists who make music they love to make and it lands wherever it lands. Whoever’s supposed to receive it, receives it.”
“Wildflowers & All the Rest” contains a remastered version of the original 1994 “Wildflowers” album, plus previously unreleased songs.
The multi-LP project drops Friday.
One thing to talk about:
Sia may have hidden her face for years, but we can see her heart.
She said she had long wanted to be a mom and had tried for years to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization with her ex-husband, filmmaker Erik Anders Lang.
“I learned the story of a 16-year-old boy (whom Sia prefers to keep anonymous to protect his identity) and instantly fell in love with him,” she said. “Older children have a really hard time getting adopted, and when I saw him, I said to myself, ‘That’s my son.’ I knew I wanted to help him.”
Brava to a star of her magnitude reminding us that all children, no matter their age, deserve a family.
Something to sip on
Megan Thee Stallion has had some major ups and downs this year, but she’s owning all of them and walking in her influence.
While Thee Stallion has been topping the music charts, she has continued to pursue her bachelor’s degree in health administration at Texas Southern University.
Plenty of women in the rap game spit lyrics about being a boss, but Megan Thee Stallion is actually living it.
We are all the better for her speaking up and out.
Pop back here next Thursday for all the latest entertainment happenings that matter.