Gal Gadot sparks debate about race and ethnicity after announcing she will play Cleopatra in upcoming biopic

Joanna Taylor
Monday 12 October 2020 07:45
Showbiz
( Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

People are debating whether or not Gal Gadot should have been cast to play Cleopatra.

The Wonder Woman actor is set to star in an upcoming historical epic written by Laeta Kalogridis and directed by Patty Jenkins. Gadot said that she was excited to tell Cleopatra's story "through women's eyes" for the first time as she announced the casting.

But some people questioned why Gadot, who is Israeli, was chosen to play the ruler of a North African country.

Others countered that although Cleopatra ruled Egypt, she was actually Greek, so disagreed with the criticism.

Being Israeli means that like Cleopatra, Gadot is of Mediterranean descent.

The debate highlighted the complicated nature of historical constructions of race and ethnicity.

Scholars generally agree that Cleopatra "would have described herself as Greek", but she also had Persian and Syrian ancestry.

Her mother's identity remains unknown, meaning her exact lineage is difficult to trace.

People in Cleopatra's day wouldn't have had the same perceptions of race and ethnicity that we do. And because of centuries of invasion, colonisation and migration, the national makeup of many present-day countries has changed significantly since ancient times.

Because of this and other factors like her mother's unknown identity, Cleopatra's race has been a source of debate for years.

So whether it's Lady Gaga, Angelia Jolie or Gal Gadot who are tipped to play her onscreen, the debate as to who should depict her similarly continues on.

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