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Alfre Woodard, Lupita Nyong'o Join Cast Of Steve McQueen's '12 Years A Slave' (We Have Our Patsey!)

by Tambay A. Obenson
June 11, 2012 4:53 PM
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Boy... the cast of Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave continues to impress! Even if I had absolutely no idea what the project was about, with this cast, and director, I would definitely be interested to see whatever it was they were cooking up.

Alfre Woodard will join a cast that already includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael FassbenderRuth Negga, Adepero OduyePaul DanoBenedict Cumberbatch, Scoot McNairyGarret Dillahunt, Brad Pitt Paul Giamatti and Sarah Paulson.

Woodard will play Mistress Shaw, a former slave who climbes the Southern caste system. I read the book, but I don't immediately recall that character; and skimming through Vanessa's review of the actual script, there is no mention of a Mistress Shaw either. So I'm guessing it's likely a relatively *minor* role. Although I'll have to flip through the pages of the book again to see where exactly she's mentioned.

Maybe Vanessa remembers and can add to this in the comments section.

Also joining the cast is newcomer Lupita Nyong'o, who will reportedly play "a slave who is the object of both the affections and cruelty of Master Epps (Fassbender)," says The Hollywood Reporter. And I believe that answers another major question we've had about the project - and that is, who will play the role of Patsey.

We speculated that Adepero Oduye would play that role after it was announced that she'd been cast in the film; but it looks like Lupita will play Patsey.

Why do I think this character as described is indeed Patsey? Well, as I said in my book-to-film reportPatsey's story is a sad, sad one. She's considered the best cotton picker of Epps' slaves, and is also his mistress, although certainly not because she wants to be. Epps is married, and his wife is aware of his infidelities with Patsey, and for that reason, she routinely orders Patsey whipped. She hates Patsey, and of course blames her for Epps' indiscretions, even though she doesn't exactly have any say in the matter. So Patsey is forced to sleep with Epps, facing his wrath if she doesn't; but if she does sleep with him, she faces Epps' wife's wrath. There's a scene in which Patsey is whipped by Epps so cruelly that I felt it just from reading Northup's words as he described the scene. I don't know how McQueen will shoot that particular sequence, but it'll be incredibly painful to watch. If you don't already hate Epps by then (and really, given everything else he does prior, you should), this will most certainly do it.

So, with a description that reads "a slave who is the object of both the affections and cruelty of Master Epps," Patsey is really the only slave woman who fits that description.

Looking over Lupita's IMDB page (she's originally from Kenya by the way), she's actually primarily a filmmaker, and has done some crew work on other projects. But little in the acting department. Although on her Twitter page, which I found via Google search, she lists herself as an actor first, and says that she is a Yale School of Drama graduate!

But I'll do some further digging to see what more I can learn about her, and will report my findings here.

As I said in a previous post, Patsey's is a meaty role, and she'll certainly chew up quite a bit of screen time. So this could certainly be a showcase for Lupita's talents.

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  • Judy Adong | January 21, 2013 5:15 PMReply

    Well, Lupita will make some people swallow their words! Let them watch this space. I am her great fun! TALENT AT IT'S BEST!

  • Donella | November 7, 2012 7:39 PMReply

    I believe an international cast for 12 Years a Slave will result in international markets for 12 Years a Slave. Smart of McQueen not to allow his projects crew and cast to be controlled by cliquish, clannish, sometimey Hollyweird.

  • Mimi | September 2, 2012 2:51 PMReply

    I first saw Lupita in the MTV Africa production: Shuga:love sex money and she was great. People need to get over themselves - Slavery was not only an issue for African Americans - be open minded and grow up. Your opinions limit you - whilst those you have negative opinions about go and achieve their dreams because they did not hold back because 'of where they come from.' For some of you the issue is you believe that because they are African it somehow lessons them. utter nonsense. Is that how you want to utilise your mind? Really? I cannot wait to watch this when it comes up - the cast is awesome and inspiring.

  • lala | September 3, 2012 1:08 PM

    @ bondgirl - wow sounds like an insult.

  • bondgirl | September 2, 2012 3:32 PM

    I don't believe many had an issue with Lupita's acting prowess, or indicated a lack of interest in seeing the film. Except those who are sick of slave genre, most are anticipating it. Some people are wonderful at comprehension, and others' strong suit is reading/spelling. You might be the latter.

  • James Evans from the Cabrini-Green | July 14, 2012 8:13 AMReply

    This will be an interesting flick if only because the director is NOT an American Black man.

  • TNails | July 14, 2012 3:20 AMReply

    I can't believe some of the comments I've read implying that Steve McQueen should've cast African American women instead of Lupita and Adepero. Unless you've read the script, were at the auditions, and know how he wants to tell the story, where do you get the right to be so judgmental?

    Did it cross your mind that these women may have had the best auditions? Lupita just graduated from one of the best acting programs in the country while Adepero has proven her chops both on film and stage. I've seen English actors steal American roles from American actors on a regular basis, and it wasn't because they were English. They were just better. One's history doesn't entitle anyone to a role in the present. Having worked on Steve McQueens last film, Shame, I can guarantee, he cast the ladies on talent, definitely not on their public profile or legacy.

    The notion you should cast people from the area you portray, gives neither due credit to the craft of actors or the imagination of the director. To abide by such simplistic logic would have robbed fans of seeing an English Jew, Liz Taylor, play a tragic southerner in Cat on a Tin Roof, or Idris Elba's tortured Rwandan in Sometimes in April, or Forest Whitaker's amazing take on a Ugandan despot. If Steve Mcqueen auditioned African American actors he thought were better for the role, they would've been cast. That's the kind of filmmaker he is.

  • Lydiah Kubo- Randall | June 20, 2012 12:05 AMReply

    Lupita was a star way back as she participated in great School Musicals in St. Mary's Nairobi Kenya.Outstanding student

  • anon | June 15, 2012 10:48 AMReply

    btw, the fragrant ruth negga is Irish so there are actually TWO Irish actors in the movie her and fassy.

  • eshowoman | June 14, 2012 5:30 AMReply

    Mc Queen is a Caribbean Brit with slave ancestry. Native born African Americans also forget that chattel slavery took place from Canada to Argentina. African communities were decimated by the slave trade colonization. They did not have it easy. Django Unchained is packed with "authentically" African American actors, do you think that it will be more realistic that 12 Years a Slave?

  • risanita | June 13, 2012 12:02 PMReply

    Just because one steps onto North American land does not make them American. Thus just because Africans were brought over to the US did not make them immediately African Americans. It's a silly argument to believe that African Americans can give a more real performance than actors born in Africa. I hope Steve Mcqueen's movie is a success because he is a great director.

  • Damaris | June 13, 2012 2:22 AMReply

    But Lupita is just kenyan, not originally kenyan, has she been of late, anything else other than kenyan am not aware of?

  • Mazuba | June 13, 2012 1:19 AMReply

    Lupita's acting credit is from the Kenyan show 'Shuga' which revolved around a group of students and their love lives with a message of Aids prevention. She was in season 1.

  • nancyc | June 12, 2012 5:22 PMReply

    McQueen has the right to cast whoever the f*ck he wants. In my book you direct Hunger and Shame- you call your shots? Who are we all to questions McQueen's artistic choices?

  • Someone | June 13, 2012 1:24 AM

    By the time the movie comes out a year after Lincoln and Durango unchained, everyone will have had slave fatigue...

  • David Muriithi | June 12, 2012 3:11 PMReply

    As a Kenyan film addict who has seen Lupita's talent grow from strength to strength - I strongly believe this will be her BIG break. She is beyond talented and will give A-list actresses/actors a run for their money. McQueen is a genius and I trust he knows exactly what he is doing. On the whole American/Brit/African/Nigerian/Kenyan/Authentic thingy - One word. Obama!! :) ;) *ducks for cover*

  • T Nails | October 4, 2012 2:04 AM

    Dave, did you read the script? Thought so. Until you have, how can you judge whether playing a slave is a bad move or not?

  • Dave | June 13, 2012 1:27 AM

    How s it a "good" thing o play a slave who gets raped, beaten, etc right after graduating from Yale? You must subscribe to the school of hard knocks..hope they pay her enough to go on a long vacation afterwards..she's gonna get typecast very quick!

  • Muse | June 12, 2012 2:05 PMReply

    My hunch is that McQueen went with non-American Black actors because he perceives them as having less historical "baggage" given the film's subject matter. Or it could just be a budgeting issue. And yeah, I too have wondered if Ruth Negga has a middle name that she could use professionally, especially if she is crossing over to Hollywood. But given that she wasn't raised in the US, and that Negga is actually an Ethiopian word meaning royalty, she may not have any hang-ups about it.

  • T Nails | October 4, 2012 2:08 AM

    Muse, McQueen auditioned just about every decent black ingenue with a good agent for the role, I know a lot them. He chose Lupita because she has serious skills. They got Brad Pitt and Fassbender, so I doubt it was a money thing, they could afford most any good young black actress (sorry pop stars don't count). The weren't being niggardly.

  • BluTopaz | June 12, 2012 11:27 AMReply

    If McQueen can choose primarily White American actors, what's up with all the Black actors with ethnicities that are not American? I did not care about Chiwetel in the lead, he's well known and a great actor. Then another African Brit, then an American with Nigerian ethnicity, now an East African in the lead roles portraying North American slaves that are main characters. Admittedly we've seen this before in a film like Lena & Boesman with Americans playing the leads. And the soon to be horrific Winnie Mandela movie-lol. But the America actors are Hollywood names so i understand the marketing. This, not so much. Maybe he has specific reasons-((shrug)). Aside from that it's incredible this is only his third feature film and the scope is so epic, regardless of the casting I want to think McQueen has the depth to treat the subject matter with respect and dignity.

  • wapibibi | June 12, 2012 7:48 AMReply

    Lupita is originally kenyan? She's still Kenyan as far as I know. I know coz I'm "pretty" Kenyan myself. Her dad is a minister in the Kenyan government too so...

  • Someone | June 12, 2012 12:06 AMReply

    It's weird...all of this...I still feel Lincoln wil be the only "slave" film I will watch.cause of Daniel Day Lewis...I didn't come to play no fu*cking slave! I rather be the next Diana Ross in next!

  • CareyCarey | June 11, 2012 9:34 PMReply

    LORD HAVE MERCY. Somebody dail 911. Nadine has lost her mind. Just like a Holy Ghost possessed santified woman, she's dancing around in the street with her wig in her hand and no bra on. She talking about leaving her husband for a man name Steve and she's yelling "JEEEZZZZUMMMM PEACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU STEVE MCQ!!!! LAWDA MERCY!". Somebody call the law b/c she's on FIRE! lmao. Nadine, I am happy for you. I've followed your passion on this project and I witnessed you heated debates over the part of Patsey and who should play that role. So believe me when I say, I feel good with you and for you. Now, if we can just keep the "We don't like no stinkin slave movies" crowd at bay, this will certainly be a match made in heaven. But darling please, pull down your dress and get back in the house before Mr Man peeks out the window, sees your hysteria, and hears you call another man's name... "happily" married might be a thang of the past. **BIG SMILE**

  • Nadine | June 12, 2012 7:53 PM

    ...that Patsey thing was KILLING me... McQueen saved the day. Thanks for taking the ride with me...

  • Nadine | June 12, 2012 7:52 PM

    @CAREYCAREY - Yes, I'm happy, but you're trying to get me in trouble. I am DEVOTED to my angel of a husband (ANGEL DAMMIT!!! So lucky...). I am SIMPLY saying that if I were NOT married......................... I would live behind McQueen's home in a tent... what is so shocking about this? I'll be alright...

  • Donella | June 11, 2012 8:39 PMReply

    Love, LOVE, the cast. McQueen brought heavyweights to the project and I like that. Strong story. Apparently, a strong script, and and a superb cast directed by a man who's already proven he can handle hard, gritty subjects with integrity. Looking forward to it.

  • Bondgirl | June 11, 2012 7:15 PMReply

    Whew! I was worried for a moment that hype would override art, but I see McQueen knew who was ready for the part of Patsey...unlike some. I don't know her pedigree, but this lady's gorgeous! She beat some STIFF competition, for real!

  • Adam Scott Thompson | June 11, 2012 7:14 PMReply

    I love it when a "Roots"-type project -- minus the possessive "Tyler Perry's" -- comes along that allows all the black actors to team up and collect a check!

  • Laura | June 13, 2012 11:34 AM

    @Nadine. I was grew up in a Caribbean neighborhood, from the ages of 8 to adult hood. That is when I first understood, that Blacks folks ain't all alike and IT'S A GOOD THING. I've known so many people who are 2nd, 3rd generation caribbean. We enjoyed the same mainstream American Black cultural things. When it came to "cullud folk" stuff or true blue let's say "Bajan" stuff we would look at each other as aliens from out of space. For the terms African-American and BLack American those are the terms I employ. It is not the be all, end all. I remember when Panamians, Jamaicans, Haitian would state that they were not Black. I remember my tribe would get very upset by those declaration. But I knew, because of the neighborhood I grew up in that it was a ethnic declaration not a racial one. However, there is an assumption that must be brought to the forefront. That assumption is that Black Americans don't have a distinct culture outside of mainstream American portrayal and the proliferation of Black cultural artifacts. Our culture is deep, rich and varied. This is one of the reason why people feel they can justify their hate for Tyler Perry films and call his work coonish (He still sucks as a filmmaker). Whatever we do that is not championed my mainstream American culture is seen it's pathological, thus routinely dismissed. We Black Americans feel that and many other Blacks who come over to this country accept the propaganda about us. There are stuff in "cullud people" cultures that blue-blood-white-american-who-been-here-since-the-Mayflower will never know and never get. It is totally foreign to them. I am glad we are all having this conversation.

  • Nadine | June 13, 2012 11:00 AM

    I'm annoyed that I lost my original comment to you Laura... so this will be messy and haphazard. I'm ALMOST 100% with you on the categorizations, but my take is that new arrival people of African decent (or their first gens), would not be considered "African-American", but their "country of origin"-American. I feel like stating that you are African-American is an apropos designation of Black Americans who have roots in the U.S. as they have a very real and rich culture of their own and do not have the luxury of an ancestral region or nation-state they can claim (with any real certainty) in Africa (not to mention, their roots are so much deeper than many in the "mainstream" who benefit endlessly from the works and labor of African-Americans who are still being treated as the step-children of the U.S....). Even though I was born and bred in the U.S., I would not claim African-American as neither of my parents were born or bred in the U.S. I was raised in a West-Indian household where there are very real traditions and expectations as well. Another example, I would not consider Adepero Oduye Afro-American or African American... I do not know the skinny as she describes herself as an, "actor. nigerian brooklynite. lover of food, life, games, laughing..." (source, twitter). Let's assume she is not naturalized and was born in the U.S. to Nigerian parents. Would she not identify herself as Nigerian-American? Messy and incomplete possibly incoherent statements, but I'm point is that we are all American and (possibly Black American, but not a requirement), but our sub-cultural designations are important, especially amongst Blacks here in the U.S. as the African-American population should be honored for being a very real culture and sub-set of their own (in other words, every Tom, Dick and Harry shouldn't be thrown into the African-American mix if that is not their culture). I apologize to anyone who read this mess... in a rush...

  • bondgirl | June 13, 2012 9:31 AM

    Just to clarify, when I say, "told by black Americans", I'm not referring to McQueen, I'm referencing the representation of the actors.

  • bondgirl | June 13, 2012 9:28 AM

    Thank you Laura for your astute dissection. That was really at the heart of my contention, in addition to my concern of black American stories not being told by or marketed to black Americans. I suppose I'd hoped to see someone ridiculously talented like Yolonda Ross given a chance in a high-profile film that she wouldn't ordinarily have, since Hollywood hasn't embraced her, and she lives and works right in New Orleans on Treme. She would have made the more authentic Patsey.

  • misha | June 13, 2012 12:11 AM

    Laura, I hear you. But I know quite a few folk who don't even like the term "African American." They refer to themselves as black folk born/raised in America. Thus, black American. And given that how we identify ourselves is a truly a personal matter, who am I to argue otherwise?

  • CareyCarey | June 12, 2012 11:14 PM

    Lookie here... it's halftime... the Thunder are down. I come back and all my concerns have been addressed without me saying a word. Misha came by and voiced a few of my sentiments and Laura filled in the gaps. That reminds me, while I was in the military (working in personnel) I had this thang about identifying were a person was from by the way they walked and talked. And believe you me, even in the north and south sections of some southern states, there's a distinct difference. With blacks it can be a walk and a twang, and a geechie, and a mumble-bumble-mouth, and a twisted word usage, and a dropped letter , and a made up word, and-a-don't-stop-don't-take-a-breath-for-comma-periods-or-nuthin-jest-keep-on-talkin', and certain hand jestures, and a grunt, and a spit, and a dance step, and a slew foot, and you say moonshine, they say stump-hole, and a pimp stride, and a country stroll. Yep, Texas is different than Tennesse. Nobody talks like folks from lower Alabama. Mississippians dain't from Key West Florida. New Orlean's folks are from a distant planet... dem some real geechie talkin' folks. Kentucky... uuummm... tricky. Black folks from the Mid West are damn near impossible to separate (their dressing style can be different, but the "voice" -- not so much. Anyway, I remember one time while in the military working in "In-Processing" I was talking to this one sistah ( I was in Indiana at the time) and I said, "you're from Mississippi, right?" , she said, "nawl baby don't do me like that! I's from Caah-caa-go, my's momma is from Mississippi".

  • Laura | June 12, 2012 9:08 PM

    @Misha. So let's look at this the reverse. If ah's moved to Nigeria with my South Kaki-Laki husband. And had me some baby thur, my chirren would be just as Nigerian (culturally) as dem Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa folk? I'm being facetious. But seriously, I use African-American for Black people in the United States --where ever we are from for how many generations. But I use Black American ( a sub-group of African-Americans)for the my particular ethnic group that is culturally distinct than Caribbean American, Jamaican American, Haitian American, etc. Barack Obama is definitely African-American, hands down, no questions asked. But he is not Black American. The American part of him is Irish.

  • misha | June 12, 2012 8:44 PM

    And I'm sorry Bondgirl but there is no debate when it comes to Adepero. She is no less American than Alfre or any other black American, regardless of her ethnicity.

  • misha | June 12, 2012 8:38 PM

    "With the exception of Ejifor, I doubt any of the others with an African or Brit accent can disappear into black Southern drawl. ">> Well firstly, I'm sure that if Steve didn't think they were up for the task, he wouldn't have hired them. Secondly, simply being a black American actor doesn't give one an advantage of perfecting the accents of slaves who lived over 150 years ago. There is certainly a disconnect there, whether one has roots in America or not and thus, any actor taking on the role would have to do some serious studying/research. Listen, if you want to argue that Steve should have hired more black American actors because it's a story about black Americans, that's fine. But hiring the decendents of slaves to portray said slaves doesn't automatically add authenticity to a role, certainly not when it comes to perfecting the accents of said slaves.

  • BluTopaz | June 12, 2012 8:34 PM

    Laura--I say ham sammich and have lived in the northeast my whole life!-lol. Don't know where i first heard it. And that is incredible about your grandmother. People think we are all the same. I am actually embarrassed to admit I was not familiar with the Geechee culture at all until Daughters of the Dust. When I visited Atlanta the first time, my brother in law (not sure where he was raised, but southern) looked at my newly manicured toes and said "lookrightprettyboutthefeetthereGUHL" and everyone fell out because i asked him to repeat that a few times until i understood. I never felt so much like a yankee in my life. You also said "I would love to see probably for the first time Black Southern (slave) life that is not filtered through the Song of the South/ Gone with the Wind/Mandigo tropes." I totally agree. It's incredible that the longest, most sustained crime against humanity is always distilled into these three tropes. I hope Solomon Northrup's story includes showing deep love and longing for the family he was torn away from. And not filtered through a White character's eyes.

  • Laura | June 12, 2012 8:19 PM

    @Blutopaz. No I did not see that HBO documentary. I will definitely catch it. My Norfolk, Virginia grandmother --God rest her soul, use to tell us how she can tell what southern state someone was from by the way they walked and talked. My Grandfather, her husband, was true Geechee Gullah man. As a kid I would love to hear him talk because he didn't sound like any southerners I knew. He would always ask for a "ham sammich". Experiencing those type of nuance on the screen will make my heart leap for joy. I will enjoy the film without American Blacks in the lead role, but to be honest, if (American) Blacks take the lead roles and truly be authentic in the portrayals I would feel as if my ancestors are speaking to me.

  • BluTopaz | June 12, 2012 8:07 PM

    Sorry, meant to clarify Jasmin Guy read the narrative from a formerly enslaved woman whose mother was violated.

  • BluTopaz | June 12, 2012 8:03 PM

    Laura--your post reminded me of the HBO documentary Unchained Memories, did you see it? Actors reading from a book of published slave narratives. Courtney Vance read a few, and when he says "when to take HUH" and softly laughs at certain points, it so reminds me of what you said about specific cadences of Southerners. And this goes for Black and Whites, i have heard southern dialects butchered often by AMERICAN actors. A lot of people think all southern accents are exaggerated nasal twangs, but there are subtleties that are very soft and noticeable.

    Here is Courtney:

    As far as authenticity, well yeah that too--This doc also featured Jasmin Guy reading the narrative about how her mother was gang raped by a group of white males. And her last line stung me. To paraphrase: "and that's why I look the way I do" as she stares into the camera. As a Black American, that resonates a LOT more with me coming from a Black American actress, than from one over the pond with a great dialect coach. All that is cute for Idris playing contemporary roles, but this is rather different that really seems like possibly political choices as you noted.

  • Nadine | June 12, 2012 8:00 PM

    ...running...@BLUTOPAZ... that Chiwetel casting actually made me CRAZY!!! I couldn't (for the life of me) understand it as I didn't think Chiwetel was mixed-race, but I thought maybe McQueen had a Fassbender like faith in Chiwetel as Chiwetel was chosen as the driving force of the movie. You've made good points, I wish I could list them!

  • Laura | June 12, 2012 7:35 PM

    @Blutopaz. I had to laugh at "who looks more West African than Don Cheadle?" The answer --No one. As a Black American, I would love to see Black Americans cast in the major roles. They will bring in cultural nuances that can not be directed nor taught. Whether it's a certain gait. (Southern Blacks Americans walk different than northern Black Americans. Certain vocal cadences. ) I would love to see probably for the first time Black Southern (slave) life that is not filtered through the Song of the South/ Gone with the Wind/Mandigo tropes. Many of us who are alive have touched a relative that was enslaved. Many of us alive have a relative who knew someone who was enslaved. That is not to say that Steve McQueen is SUPPOSE to cast Black Americans for the major roles (I don't have a clue about the behind the scenes casting politics for the film) But if he does, and bring that authentic Mississippi flavor to it. (Morgan Freeman is a Mississppi man)

  • CareyCarey | June 12, 2012 7:20 PM

    I think we have several lines of thought. I believe Blutopaz is speaking to the physical features of what she believes is a "true" representation of an African. Bondgirl clarified her remarks "actors from the country of origin lends authenticity". Although I still have problems with each of their comments, I'm getting ready to watch the game (Miami vs OKC). I can't hang out with y'all tonight. It's dinner and the NBA playoffs.

  • Bond girl | June 12, 2012 7:00 PM

    @Carey/Nadine: If you refer to my response to Misha, I said that having actors from the country of origin lends authenticity. This has nothing (for me, at least) to do with ad mixture or genetics or facial features. This is why I was in complete solidarity with Ashley Akunna's petition, and while disagreeing with facets of her petition, I empathized with her concern. Having Djimin Hounsou play Cinque makes much more sense than Taye Diggs...both are dark skinned, but the audience buys into him as Cinque with an authentic African accent that didn't require help from a dialect coach. Any American Oscar winner could have played Michael Collins, but Liam Neeson is just so much more believable. SM found an Irishman to play Bobby Sands, he didn't go get an American. With the exception of Ejifor, I doubt any of the others with an African or Brit accent can disappear into black Southern drawl. Tom wilkinson's American accent in Mission Impossible 4 was heavily scrutinized. Also, having roots in America shows much more realism. Fasts bender being able to talk about how Bobby Sands affected his childhood in interviews sells authenticity. I have more to add, but I'm on an iPod and it's difficult to see and edit down my thoughts...hope that clears things up!

  • BluTopaz | June 12, 2012 6:58 PM

    @ Nadine: Ruth Negga is half White (and she looks a lot more mixed than I do, believe me). I haven't read the book so I'm guessing her character is written as mixed race. But Chiwetel doesn't look any more African than say, Anthony Mackie, Sam Jackson, Morgan Freeman-who looks more West African than Don Cheadle?-lol. And I lost count how many comments there were re: Adeporo's striking resemblance to Nina Simone in that other thread a few weeks back. Some have even said she looks like a young Whoopi. When I saw her on the Louis C.K. show last year she looked just like any Black American girl riding the subway in Brooklyn. I could see your point if the majority of the millions of us looked like Beyonce and Terrance Howard, but that is not the case. You ever see Black folks from the Carolinas who never mingled with "others"? Even if McQueen is "simply keeping it real", it makes no sense that he would cast an East African. I seriously doubt this is McQueen's reason.

  • Nadine | June 12, 2012 5:44 PM

    Ummm... what CAREYCAREY said (made my life a lot easier...). It's almost ultra-authentic for Steve to have cast whom he has cast. Black Americans are notoriously varied in mixture as a group, though the overall percentages are not as high as previously thought, but it's not the percentage of European ancestry that matters as much as the varied European ancestry that Black Americans have due to the diversity in the White populations that came over and profited from the U.S. system of enslaving Africans who themselves were from different nations. Dutch, German, Irish, Scottish, English, etc... a mixture that has become so complex all these years later that Black Americans can vary greatly from one another often making it difficult for our issues of health, etc... Black Americans have some of the most varied DNA in the world and less resemble their recent ancestors genetically than those who have closer ties to "the continent" today. I at first was taken aback by the casting news over the past couple of months, but realized that Steve was simply continuing to keep it real.

  • CareyCarey | June 12, 2012 4:26 PM

    Black Americans?Bondgirl: "For a movie about black Americans, that's not right" "You are, who your mother is". Bondgirl my friend, I have to question this one. The mother's of most if not all North American people of dark skin complextions are Africans. Some African American's physical features have been watered down through generations of the infusion of "white" European blood. This is a story of SLAVERY, parts of which took place on the continent of North America. Steve McQueen IS staying true to realism - history and evolution.

  • bondgirl | June 12, 2012 1:40 PM

    Ali, The Original Jews have a saying, "You are, who your mother is". So I would consider you black American, but also allow you to self-identify.

  • Ali | June 12, 2012 11:42 AM

    I definitely understand your point, Bondgirl. Having said that, I'm not sure if people would find me American enough for a role in this. My father is an African immigrant but my mother is black American. I know about my heritage and history, I've been around black Americans my whole life, I've experienced life as a black American...I just have another part to me and a different name. It really shows things are not so black and white sometimes. I don't know. I would think I'm black American enough...LOL. I know more about black American history than my African ancestry and I feel connected to it even if it's not really all I am connected to.

  • bondgirl | June 12, 2012 11:05 AM

    Misha, yes her nationality is American, but her ethnicity is Nigerian. It just lends authenticity to a film when French actors play French, Irish actors play Irish, and so on. The majority of the cast is made up of white American actors (Pitt, Giamatti, Paulson, Dano, Dillahunt, & McNairy), African actors (Ejifor, Negga-someone please tell her to change her name, Oduye, and Nyong'o), 1 white Brit, 1 white Irish, and Woodard. For a movie about black Americans, that's not right. There are still more roles, but nothing major. However, this also makes me wonder who is this film being marketed to? As someone also concerned with realism, surely you see my point?

  • misha | June 12, 2012 1:46 AM

    Bondgirl, you do realize that Adepero is also American, yes? Moreover, the majority of the cast is made up of American actors. In total, there are four Brits, with two of them being black (Ejiofor and Negga).

  • Bondgirl | June 12, 2012 1:26 AM

    Alfre Woodard being the only American doesn't excite me. She is talented, and good at emoting, but still blah to me.

  • bondgirl | June 12, 2012 1:13 AM

    A Roots-type project would have enough sense to hire Black American actors in lead or supporting roles, not use them as extras picking cotton. This casting is about giving African and Afro-Brits some Hollywood cred. I see you, Stevie. However, I get what you meant.

  • Shanea | June 11, 2012 6:36 PMReply

    I am a huge Alfre Woodard fan. This is very exciting news. I am definitely looking forward to this one!

  • Simone | June 11, 2012 6:06 PMReply

    Oh man! This movie is going to be deliciously painful to watch! A Must See of 2013!

  • Nijla | June 11, 2012 6:05 PMReply

    I am enjoying these "12 Years A Slave" casting updates immensely. Inspiration.

  • misha | June 11, 2012 6:05 PMReply

    "Pardon my French but f*ck Django Unchained. This is the one we should be talking about." - !!!!!!!

  • Ali | June 11, 2012 6:04 PMReply

    I've met Lupita! I'm so excited for this now! :D

  • Nadia | June 11, 2012 6:00 PMReply

    Pardon my French but f*ck Django Unchained. This is the one we should be talking about.

  • misha | June 11, 2012 5:58 PMReply

    Nadine, are you excited about this film or not? I can't tell. LOL No seriously, I would have no problem fangirling for this film. McQueen truly has all the ingredients to produce one hell of an adaptation.

  • Nadine | June 11, 2012 6:29 PM

    Ooops...sorry, Misha, but ggggggyyyyyyrrrrrrllllll!!!! Steve is doing his DAMN thing! I will TRY to stop... possibly.... I can't guarantee... I'll try... can't wait... CANNOT WAIT.

  • Zach | June 11, 2012 5:50 PMReply

    Lupita is known for playing a leading role on the MTV produced mini series Shuga, set in Nairobi.

  • Nadine | June 11, 2012 5:59 PM

    ...I need to stop, BUT she also produced "In My Genes", a documentary on Albinism. ... love her. Loved her in "Shuga" too...

  • Nadine | June 11, 2012 5:23 PMReply

    Okay... I'm going to stop after this... but HARRIET SHAW, who will be played by the lovely Alfre Woodard, is the Black wife of Epps neighbor. ...the soap incident...

  • James | June 11, 2012 5:17 PMReply

    This is one IMPRESSIVE (yes I am shouting) cast!!

  • Nadine | June 11, 2012 5:31 PM

    *dance of joy* ... from the rooftops. This is how you make a damn movie. DAMMIT!

  • Jane | June 11, 2012 5:17 PMReply

    So if Negga is probably Eliza and Lupita Nyong'o is Patsey, does that mean Adepero is probably playing Solomon's wife? Or is it more likely that her role is expanded from the autobiography, possibly one of the slaves on the plantation?

  • Vanessa | June 11, 2012 5:27 PM

    Negga is playing a runaway slave Solomon encounters in the woods. I thing Adepero may be playing Eliza. It's just a guess though.

  • Vanessa | June 11, 2012 5:16 PMReply

    Well, having read the script, I can say that Woodard's role is minor yet poignant. She's so going to kill this part too! :)

    She was a slave who's now more of a common law wife of Master Shaw, a well-to-do plantation owner, whom Master Epps is jealous/envious of. Woodard's character "gave in" to his "affections" long ago, so she wouldn't have to struggle working in the field. She's settled, comfortable and perhaps arrogant in her position, a victim of the times and cirmcustances nonetheless. BTW, Patsey visits her on Sundays.

    That's all I will say!

  • Donella | June 11, 2012 8:37 PM

    Intriguing addition to the story.

  • Nadine | June 11, 2012 5:03 PMReply


  • Nadine | June 11, 2012 7:34 PM

    ...I just read the FELA! post by Tambay and wondered about the actress Saycon Sengbloh. I wonder if she had any interest in "12 Years..." even in a minor role. Oh McQueen... *shameful bump of post*

  • Nadine | June 11, 2012 5:27 PM

    I'm sayin'!!!

  • Nadine | June 11, 2012 5:19 PM

    I'm done... I AM DONE! This dude NEVER FAILS! LUPITA IS PERFECT!!! I'm near tears. She's perfect on soooo many levels it's KIND of ridiculous... This is how you get a fanboy/girl community... by keepin' it real and authentic. By not falling for hype or celebrity and staying true to your art and your message based in spirituality and truth through humanity (yeah... I went there). If I weren't married, Steve McQueen.... IF I WEREN'T Married (happily), I'd be in the Old Bailey trying to explain why I was camping out behind your flat. I'm done.

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