Black actress suffers 'deplorable' racist abuse after being cast alongside Tom Holland in Romeo and Juliet

5 April 2024, 15:39

The production of Romeo and Juliet will take place at the Duke of York's theatre
The production of Romeo and Juliet will take place at the Duke of York's theatre. Picture: Alamy/Instagram

By Kit Heren

A black actress cast as Juliet in a production of Romeo and Juliet alongside Tom Holland has suffered a "barrage of deplorable racial abuse".

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The theatre company staging the West End Shakespeare production said the abuse of Francesca Amewudah-Rivers "must stop".

Amewudah-Rivers has been the target of online comments comparing her to a man, and insisting that Juliet is a white character, amid other abuse.

Many other comments under the Jamie Lloyd company's announcement on Instagram have congratulated her for the achievement of being cast in the role.

The Jamie Lloyd Company said: "Following the announcement of our Romeo & Juliet cast, there has been a barrage of deplorable racial abuse online directed towards a member of our company.

Read more: ‘Black people have been told they don’t belong at the theatre’: Playwright defends ‘black-only’ nights at West End show

Read more: Million-dollar mix up: Tom Hollander reveals he received ‘seven-figure’ bonus meant for Tom Holland

"This must stop.

"We are working with a remarkable group of artists. We insist that they are free to create work without facing online harassment.

"We will continue to support and protect everyone in our company at all costs. Any abuse will not be tolerated and will be reported.

"Bullying and harassment have no place online, in our industry or in our communities.

Francesca Amewudah-Rivers
Francesca Amewudah-Rivers. Picture: Getty

"Our rehearsal room is full of joy, compassion and kindness. We celebrate the extraordinary talent of our incredible collaborators.

"The Romeo & Juliet community will continue to rehearse with generosity and love, and focus on the creation of our production."

Amewudah-Rivers is a relative newcomer. She has appeared in several TV shows, plays and short films, including Bad Education, but this will be her first time acting in the West End.

She said on being cast: "I’m so grateful to be making my West End debut as Juliet with The Jamie Lloyd Company.

Tom Holland
Tom Holland. Picture: Alamy

"It’s a dream to be joining this team of incredible artists with Jamie at the helm. I’m excited to bring a fresh energy to this story alongside Tom, and to welcome new audiences to the theatre."

Her co-star Holland is world-famous for his leading performances in a series of Spiderman films. He said: "Beyond excited to announce our cast for Romeo and Juliet. I can’t wait to get started and I know we’ll create something really special together."

The production opens at the Duke of York's theatre on May 23 and runs until August 3.

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