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‘Harriet’ Director Kasi Lemmons Overlooked Cynthia Erivo Criticism for the Sake of Art

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Cynthia Erivo was hardly anyone’s first choice to assume the role of Black American icon Harriet Tubman. Yet, she was cast as the legend herself despite her reputation for disparaging remarks toward the Black American community. For the creation of “a piece of art”, Kasi Lemmons ignored the overwhelming criticisms facing Erivo. Now, the two are on a press tour struggling to save the film’s image.

Citing uncertainty of why Erivo’s backlash is so severe, Lemmons is naively claiming it’s because “she’s a woman.” Referencing other films like 12 Years A Slave and Selma, where British actors have held esteemed roles, Lemmons is overlooking the fact that the actors’ cast did not disrespect the Black American community while aspiring to portray one. Believing Cynthia Erivo was perfect for the part, Lemmons said despite understanding the criticism, she was more concerned with casting someone who would “inhabit the role.” Going so far as to say arguments against Erivo’s portrayal are “very unpleasant and ugly nationalistic” sentiments, Lemmons asserted the role belonged to her. Erivo has spoken out in her own defense several times. However, her attempts to clear the air have been called disingenuous.

Erivo recently stated in an interview with Variety that she knows she “hasn’t said anything that is derogatory toward any race.” She insists the screenshots against her are out of context to make her statements look demeaning. While acknowledging her comments were insensitive, Erivo understands people are still unsatisfied despite having “apologized, explained” and “displayed my intent.” The continued backlash led Lemmons to say despite her understanding of the importance of who gets to “bear the culture” Black Americans are “not seeing the forest for the damn trees.”

Lemmons felt Erivo’s casting was more appropriate because she is a brown-skinned Black woman with “recent ancestors that are West African”. Citing Tubman’s own lineage of being two generations removed from West Africa, Lemmons called the casting “beautiful.” However, she inadvertently used the very same ugly nationalistic sentiments she accuses Erivo’s detractors of wielding. Had a Black American been cast for the role, their ability to encapsulate the strength and resilience of Harriet Tubman would not be lost because of their diasporic experience.

With Harriet set to release November 1st, will you be watching in light of Erivo’s and Lemmons’ comments?

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SZA, Megan Thee Stallion and Normani on the Cover of Rolling Stone’s Women Shaping the Future Issue

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Rolling Stone magazine hit us with a trifecta of talent for their second annual, Women Shaping the Future issue, out March 3. 

On the cover, sweet-faced Normani, brash in your face Megan Thee Stallion and innocent, doe-eyed SZA are each clad in leather ensembles that match the unique persona’s we’ve come to love. 

SZA burst onto the scene in 2014 with her ep debut, Z. Since then, the singer/songwriter has been featured on chart-topping songs with Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, and Rihanna. 

Megan Thee Stallion grabbed our attention with her summer anthem, Hot Girl Summer, and has been giving us “Hot Girl” vibes all year long with no signs of slowing down.

As for Normani, formerly a member of Fifth Harmony, she’s given us plenty to celebrate as she embarked on her solo career. Just last year, the sultry vocalist collaborated with DJ Calvin Harris and released her first single, Motivation, along with a viral music video.

As we approach Women’s History Month, we’re excited to learn more about how each of these ladies plans to shape the future. 

According to Rolling Stone, “In addition to revealing, in-depth profiles of these three artists, the issue also contains exclusive interviews with Regina King, Stacey Abrams, Natasha Lyonne, and other prominent women in entertainment, sports, politics, and culture.”

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A Boogie Talks Artist 2.0, Roddy Ricch & more on TIDAL’s Car Test Series

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Following the release of his third studio album, “Artist 2.0,” A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie joins TIDAL CCO, Elliott Wilson, for a new episode of TIDAL’s Car Test. Riding through the City in a USSV Rhino GX, the multi-chart topping artist discusses his approach to making music and opening up in his songs, his respect for Roddy Ricch, using his “performance voice” in the studio and more.

Fans can watch the episode on TIDAL.com/CarTest

TIDAL is more than just a music streaming service, with in-depth interviews and original content, fans can dive deeper into the passions, inspirations and life events that have helped shape some of their favorite artists today.

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Dear Summer Walker

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