Thandie Newton Regrets Portraying Black Stereotypes in Movies, Hints at Friction With Spike Lee

The ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ actress apologizes for taking roles that misinterpreted African Americans in the past and welcomes criticisms from fans and Hollywood pals.

AceShowbizThandie Newton regrets some of the roles she took on earlier in her career because of the way they misrepresented African-Americans.

The British actress gave an emotional interview to New York magazine’s Vulture, in which she opened up about her roles in movies such as 1995’s “Jefferson in Paris“, “Beloved“, and Oscar-winning movie “Crash“.

In “Jefferson in Paris” she played slave Sally Hemings, the “lover” of the then Ambassador of the United States to France before his presidency, and when asked how she saw the film in retrospect, the “Westworld” star candidly admitted she now found it problematic, along with her portrayals of African-Americans in general.

“I would definitely approach that film in a completely different way now. I would push for the film to be more about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson,” she confessed. “And I think that had the DNA tests been done before the movie, they would have definitely wanted to make it more about that.”

In 1998, a DNA test published in the scientific journal Nature found strong evidence that Thomas Jefferson fathered at least one child with Hemings.

Newton continued, “I mean, she was his slave. It was rape.”

In her defence, she added, it was “my first big film” and she welcomed criticism from “any number of African-Americans… for that one.”

“Well, I don’t think it’s paranoia. Spike Lee and I had a little moment,” she said of the forthright director’s views on the role. “We’re always respectful when we see each other. But he wasn’t exactly knocking on my door asking me to work with him.”

“I can’t put words in his mouth of what he thought of it,” she continued. “I know the nature of this business has had me play roles that I’m embarrassed I played. It’s had me misrepresent African-Americans. Because I didn’t know.”

The Brit then suggested she had “not been of great service” in her career and apologised for getting emotional as she broke down in tears.

“I guess it’s been of service in one respect, because there’s a person of colour in a movie, but that can do more harm than good – let’s face it,” she said. “Anyway, sorry. God, wow. I’ve never cried in an interview before.”

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