18 Actors And Directors Who Had The Perfect Response After Being Attacked For Their Diverse Casting Choices

·9 min read

In response to the hateful backlash for the diverse casting of fantasy characters in House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power, Whoopi Goldberg made a valid point. "I want to start by saying: These are not real. There are no dragons, there are no hobbits."

diverse characters on the different fantasy shows
Amazon Studios

"And there are critics who are saying they were too woke by adding — yes — diverse characters. Are you telling me Black people can't be fake people, too?"

closeup of Whoopi
ABC

Whoopi got me thinking: If you find yourself full of rage and disgust at the sight of seeing a Black mermaid or Latino fantasy character — you're racist.

VH1 / Via media.giphy.com

Elves from Middle Earth, sea pirates from Essos, Disney mermaids, and superheroes from another planet can be people of color too!

After decades of being sidelined and excluded, people of all genders, ethnicities, sexualities, and other identities are finally getting roles as elves, hobbits, sea pirates, mermaids, and superheroes.

closeup of the cast of house of the dragon
HBO

The folks who claim "I'm not racist, BUT" or "the backlash doesn't exist" have driven the conversation for too long. I'm giving it back to the people who deserve it.

closeup of two characters about to kiss

It's time for the bigotry and ignorance to take a seat.

Disney

Here are 18 famous people who had the best responses to the backlash for their "diverse casting":

1.Halle Bailey responded perfectly to the backlash against her casting as Ariel in the 2023 live-action The Little Mermaid. “I want the little girl in me and the little girls just like me who are watching to know that they’re special and that they should be a princess in every single way.”

close up of Halle as Ariel
Disney

2.Steve Toussaint encountered racist backlash for his role as Corlys Velaryon in the House of the Dragon series. He responded, “I guess some people live in a different world," he said. "I’m very lucky that I have friends who are of all persuasions. I’ve got Caucasian friends, East Asian friends, South Asian friends, Black friends. That’s my world, and I want to be in programs that reflect that world."

close up of Steve as Corlys

"For every toxic person that has somehow found their way into my timeline, there have been so many others who have been so supportive."

HBO

3.For her role as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Kelly Marie Tran refused to be marginalized by the racist harassment. "I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white. I want to live in a world where women are not subjected to scrutiny for their appearance, or their actions, or their general existence."

close up of Rose during an interview

"I want to live in a world where people of all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, gender identities, and abilities are seen as what they have always been: human beings. This is the world I want to live in. And this is the world that I will continue to work toward."

Randy Holmes / ABC via Getty Images

4.The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power executive producer, Lindsey Weber, quickly responded to the criticism of the series' casting of several people of color. “We’re all up for criticism,” she said. “We’re not up for racism.”

closeup of one of the elves

Actor Ismael Cruz Córdova who plays an elf, said, “I didn’t see myself represented. And when I said, ‘I want to be an elf,’ people said, ‘Elves don’t look like you. When I heard about the character on the show, it felt like a mission.”

Amazon Studios

5.Moses Ingram stood up to the racist backlash over her casting as Reva Sevander in the new Obi-Wan series. "Obi-Wan is going to bring the most diversity I think we’ve ever seen in the galaxy before," said said. "To me, it’s long overdue. If you’ve got talking droids and aliens but no people of color, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s 2022, you know. So we’re just at the beginning of that change. But I think to start that change is better than never having started it.”

close up of Moses as Reva
Disney

6.Batwoman actor, Javicia Leslie, powered through the hate with this response. "God brought me here for a reason," she said. "He put me in this position for a reason. With that, it’s nothing to fear because I know this will empower someone to see a Black female superhero. You don’t get to see it often. It’s so epic. I grew up on Batman and Catwoman and the Joker and Penguin. Now, to see blackness in that, I think it’s very inclusive. Very empowering."

closeup of Javicia as Batwoman
Warner Bros.

7.John Boyega called out the racist backlash when he was cast as Finn in the newest Star Wars trilogy. “It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you. Because you realize, ‘I got given this opportunity, but I’m in an industry that wasn’t even ready for me.’"

closeup of John in Star wars

"Nobody else in the cast had people saying they were going to boycott the movie because [they were in it]. Nobody else had the uproar and death threats sent to their Instagram DMs and social media, saying, ‘Black this and black that and you shouldn’t be a Stormtrooper.’ Nobody else had that experience. But yet people are surprised that I’m this way. That’s my frustration.“

Disney

8.When the 2014 adaptation of Annie dropped, fans upset over Quvenzhané Wallis' casting got this response from her costar Jamie Foxx, "Who was it that played Cleopatra? Liz Taylor—we’ve always sort of adapted Americana to do whatever types of movies we want to do,” Foxx says. “I think the conversation is a little old. To talk about racism with a kid’s movie is a little old.”

close up of Quvenzhane as Annie
Sony Pictures

9.Anna Diop shut down the backlash from Titans fans after a photo of her as Starfire leaked. "The hate speech that followed was deplorable. And though I am highly unbothered. I do want to use this as an opportunity to say that tearing people down is not something that I tolerate. For myself or anyone else."

<div><p>"Too often social media is abused by some who find refuge in the anonymity and detachment it provides: misused as a tool to harass, abuse, and spew hatred at others. This is weak, sad, and a direct reflection of the abuser."</p></div><span> Warner Bros.</span>

"Too often social media is abused by some who find refuge in the anonymity and detachment it provides: misused as a tool to harass, abuse, and spew hatred at others. This is weak, sad, and a direct reflection of the abuser."

Warner Bros.

10.When Michael B. Jordan received hate for being cast as The Human Torch in the 2015 Fantastic Four reboot, he responded, “Sometimes you have to be the person who stands up and says, ‘I’ll be the one to shoulder all this hate. I’ll take the brunt for the next couple of generations.’"

closeup of Michael in the film

"I put that responsibility on myself. People are always going to see each other in terms of race, but maybe in the future, we won’t talk about it as much.”

20th Century

11.In response to the hatred surrounding her casting as Rue in The Hunger Games, Amandla Stenberg had this to say, "There was resistance to having Black girls in films, and that Black women are dehumanized, and their lives are seen as less valuable than white lives.”

closeup of Amandla as Rue

“Now is one of the first times we’re getting really good Black roles for Black women that are leading roles, and projects where Black women are at the helm and Black people are at the helm.”

Lionsgate

12.When people criticized Tessa Thompson as the Asgardian heroine Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, she shut it down, saying, "We just do what we do, and we hope that people respond to it, and we ignore the ones that don’t..."

Tessa as Valkyrie in the middle of two costars

"It's important for Marvel to answer the call for inclusion and diversity and also to be able to have some freedom with these stories."

Marvel

13.Idris Elba also responded to the hate for his casting as Heimdall in the Thor films. “It’s so ridiculous. We have a man [Thor] who has a flying hammer and wears horns on his head. And yet me being an actor of African descent playing a Norse god is unbelievable?”

closeup of Idris as the norse god
Marvel

14.Quintessa Swindell had a comeback to the backlash for their role as Cyclone in the 2022 superhero flick Black Adam. "It's 2021. Like, I'm tired. I just didn't really have an opinion of it. My focus is to learn as much about the character as I can about the character and do the character justice... There's so many elements of Cyclone that are so fascinating and so different than a lot of other superheroes I've seen."

closeup of Quintessa
Warner Bros.

15.Zendaya got candid about the racially charged backlash over playing MJ in the Spider-Man movies. “Of course, there’s going to be outrage over that because, for some reason some people just aren’t ready."

close up of Zendaya as MJ

“I’m like, ‘I don’t know what America you live in, but from what I see when I walk outside my streets of New York right now, I see lots of diversity, and I see the real world, and it’s beautiful, and that’s what should be reflected, and that’s what is reflected, so you’re just going to have to get over it.’”

Marvel

16.Storm Reid had a great response revisiting the backlash for her role in A Wrinkle in Time. “Some people had problems with me playing Meg because they’d loved her as a Caucasian girl for so long,” said Reid. “They were uncomfortable to have that shift, but the only way to create change in our world is through people willing to be uncomfortable.”

storm reid

“When the film came out, little girls would come up to me and say, ‘Thank you for allowing me to see a girl who looks like me save the world,’ ” she said. “That’s when I realized my career was bigger than myself.”

Walt Disney Pictures

17.Jodie Turner-Smith let backlash for her portrayal of the titular role of Anne Boleyn roll right off her back. “I did know it would be something that people felt very passionately about, either in a positive or a negative way, because Anne is a human in history who people feel very strongly about. More than anything, I wanted to tell the human story at the centre of all of this.”

close up of Jodie as Anne
Sony Pictures

18.And lastly, the original author of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Rick Riordan, called out racist fans following backlash of Leah Jeffries' casting as Annabeth Chase. “You are judging her appropriateness for this role solely and exclusively on how she looks. She is a Black girl playing someone who was described in the books as white,” he wrote. “Friends, that is racism.”

“Leah brings so much energy and enthusiasm to this role, so much of Annabeth’s strength. She will be a role model for new generations of girls who will see in her the kind of hero they want to be.”

“Leah brings so much energy and enthusiasm to this role, so much of Annabeth’s strength. She will be a role model for new generations of girls who will see in her the kind of hero they want to be.”

Corey Nickols / Getty Images for IMDb

What is your response to the backlash for the diverse casting? If now is not the time to for change, then when?