“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” cast members Cynthia Addai-Robinson, who plays Queen Regent Miriel; Ismael Cruz Córdova, the warrior elf Arondir; and Sophia Nomvete, Princess Disa, who is the first Black female dwarf in Middle-earth, made the trek Sunday to Lucca Comics & Games, the unique event dedicated to pop culture, cosplay and comics held in the medieval Tuscan town of Lucca.
In an interview with Variety, the three actors of color spoke about the racist backlash to their casting as major characters on the Prime Video show.
“Actors of colour.”
Speaking of which, the inclusion of people of color in the cast of “The Rings of Power” sparked racist backlash online. A few weeks later, do you feel that the conversation about this aspect has subsided a bit?
Cruz: The fact that the attention was shifted toward that shows you what the power of shows like this is. The fact that it hit that nerve, and that our being in it created such as response, just brings attention to the greatness of fantasy, the greatness of “Lord of the Rings” and why it’s actually good that we are here. Did it become a bit too much? Absolutely! It’s taken air time from the depth of who we are as artists. But it just shows you where we are in the world and how much work we still have to do. I’m just very grateful that it’s us who are able to recalibrate, break form, reshape and make history.
When reviewing the show I was blown away by how terrible it was. Basic, fundamental rules of storytelling were broken so badly that the story appeared incoherent. The dialogue was excruciatingly bad, except for when it became legitimately so bad that it’s good.
That’s quite a rare thing, to be so bad that it’s good. For the most part things are just bad, but Kangz of the Rangz really took it to the next level, and crossed over into “I can’t believe I’m watching this, how did no one stop this?” territory.
Addai-Robinson: In order to not have such an impact, the pendulum has to swing. We are right in the middle of that process. We just want to normalize. We do have to discuss it, because we are now in a space in society where need to – now and again – acknowledge exactly what is happening. That level of distraction or aggression that was put towards us – it’s been a painful journey to get there – but it has elevated us. It has put us in a position where there will be a plaque one day when the pendulum has swung to where it needs to be. We will have badges upon the people who fought the great fight in order to get to a point to where there isn’t such an eruption based solely on that, when a casting announcement comes. While it’s been a challenge, it has been a phenomenal moment to be a part of. Doors are open and accessibility is available for absolutely everyone to feel safe within a franchise and a story of this scale. It’s been really important and empowering. Tears have been shed, blood has been spilled – metaphorically – but we are here.
Cool, so we can just cast a White Man as a Wakandian, right? Like, just to be clear, that would be a “casting decision,” so there shouldn’t be an “eruption,” over that, right? In fact, that would be a really brave decision that I’m sure Cynthia Addai-Robinson would wholeheartedly support. I’m also sure that she just hates censorship with a passion, so that we can all discuss it together.
Nomvete: To answer your question, we still get a ton of controversy, but there has been a shift. You know what there has been? It feels like there has been a sit-down. It feels like we had to prove ourselves, almost. We had to defend ourselves. But it’s undeniable that these people are in the position that they are in deserve to be there and should be there. There is nobody else that could have played the role. I genuinely feel that there has been a shut down. I’ve even had apologies, which I love, even if it were just one person acknowledging that that frame of mind was wrong.
It is a gift that Kangz of the Rangz is such garbage, even from an apolitical standpoint. The absolute worst thing that could have happened would have been for the show to have some small amount of artistic quality. Instead, the anti-White casting must now be associated with a show so bad it spawned a mini-industry of people just making fun of it.
It’s nice to see they’re doubling down on this.