Jodie Turner-Smith has reflected on being the first black actress to be cast as Anne Boleyn in Channel 5’s forthcoming three-part drama.
Speaking to Radio Times on Tuesday, The Queen and Slim star, 34, admitted that she knew it might be ‘a stretch’ for some viewers to see her as the doomed second wife of Henry VIII, but said she was sure others were ‘finally ready’ to see her in the role.
Jodie is the first black actress to portray Anne, and she follows in the footsteps of Natalie Dormer, Claire Foy and Natalie Portman by playing the historic part.
‘I am aware it’s going to be a stretch for some people’: Jodie Turner-Smith reflected on being the first black actress to be cast as Anne Boleyn in a new interview on Tuesday
Reflecting on this, Jodie told the publication: ‘It’s much more approachable and appealing to a contemporary audience when you cast this way because we are distilling this down to a human experience.
‘If you ask anyone to watch a film or to observe any art, you are asking them to suspend their beliefs.
‘I am aware it’s going to be a stretch for some people because they will feel too distracted by that, but I think for a lot of other people who are finally ready to see the world in a different way, they’re going to see that this is a human story we are telling, and a fascinating one at that.’
Thoughts: Jodie said while some viewers might find it hard to see her as the doomed second wife of Henry VIII (pictured), she was sure others were ‘finally ready’ to see her in the role
Jodie went on to discuss how Anne was executed after King Henry began to hate how independent and intelligent she was.
‘Before I met my husband [The Affair star Joshua Jackson], some of the men I dated would love what they saw but the minute we got together, the thing they loved was the very thing they wanted to stamp out.
‘I think that’s the mark of any powerful woman: the male ego can be quite fragile. They love how outspoken you are and suddenly it’s, “You’re speaking too much.”‘
Jodie welcomed her daughter Janie in April 2020, and she explained how motherhood has changed the way she sees other women and their experiences.
Candid: Jodie said, ‘For a lot of other people who are finally ready to see the world in a different way, they’re going to see that this is a human story we are telling’
Of her character, she said: ‘Anne, like all women at the time, was trying to navigate the patriarchy as a mother and a woman and that’s what makes this story so powerful and interesting; it felt relatable and modern.’
Anne Boleyn will explore the final months of Anne Boleyn’s life from the eponymous Queen’s perspective, as she struggles to secure a future for her daughter and to challenge the powerful patriarchy closing in around her.
The three-part series will depict the key moments that cause Anne to topple, unpicking her immense strength, her fatal vulnerabilities and her determination to be an equal among men.
The cast also includes I May Destroy You’s Paapa Essiedu, who will portray the role of Anne’s brother and Tudor nobleman George.
Background: The series explores the final moments of the queen’s life from her lens before she is executed by her husband
Dating Amber actress Lola is featured as Anne’s love rival, Jane Seymour, who succeeded her as the Queen of England.
Jamael Westman, Amanda Burton and Thalissa Teixeira also play roles in the mini-series – which finished production on location in Yorkshire in December 2020.
Penned by writer Eve Hedderwick Turner and directed by Lynsey Miller, Anne Boleyn aims to ‘challenge all the conventions of who we think Anne Boleyn was and shines a feminist light on her story.’
Challenging conventions: The three-part series will depict the key moments that cause Anne to topple, unpicking her immense strength and her determination to be an equal among men
Fable Pictures added: ‘We’re absolutely thrilled to have the magnetic Jodie Turner-Smith on board to encapsulate Anne’s determination to be an equal among men and to pave a path for her daughter.
‘We feel that history has side-lined the voice of this ambitious Queen in favour of the men who brought her down, and that Lynsey Miller’s beautiful, intimate vision will put Anne’s gaze at the heart of the piece.’
Ben Frow, director of programs at ViacomCBS, added: ‘This project re-frames her story as a propulsive psychological thriller, told from a new perspective, with top talent like Jodie Turner-Smith attached.
Queen: Back in 2007, Natalie Dormer took on the role of Anne Boleyn alongside Jonathan Rhys Meyer’s Henry VIII in BBC series, The Tudors
All the stars: Natalie Portman took on the role of the Queen for The Other Boleyn Girl in 2008, while Claire Foy played her for the BBC’s £7 million series Wolf Hall in 2009
‘It was simply too irresistible to say no to and I’m very excited to see the finished product.’
Director Miller previously defended the decision to give the role to a black actress, after sparking accusations of ‘blackwashing’.
The TV executive said: ‘I feel very strongly that we have the best actress for the role so I am happy to stand by it. I’m very proud of what we have created together, so let them talk.
This content was originally published here.