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Omar Sy To Star As Rafael Padilla In Biopic Of Cuban-Born Slave Turned French Entertainer

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act January 30, 2013 at 11:57AM

A double-shot of Omar Sy this morning...
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A double-shot of Omar Sy this morning...

Earlier was news that Sy is "in talks" to co-star with Bradley Cooper in a culinary dramedy titled Chef.

I was able to verify, thanks to a comment left by reader Simone yesterday, that Sy has recently become attached to play the lead role in a French-Language film titled Chocolat, which is a biopic of Rafael Padilla - a former Cuban-born slave, who became the first black artist in France during the Belle Epoque era.

Not familiar with Rafael Padilla, I did some research to learn that Rafael captivated the French with his talents as a singer, dancer and clown, working under the stage name of "Chocolat" (hence the title of the film), a term that, because of the roles he played roles, became slang for "ridiculed or abused." When his parents died, the woman charged with looking after him sent him to Europe – "where there are no slaves" – and where Rafael hoped to find his freedom. He did odd jobs in Spain, and eventually arrived in Paris in 1887, at the age of 18, where he was discovered by Footit, a British clown who needed a partner.

Rafael joined the circus, where he was habitually cast in denigrating roles – like king of the monkeys, slave to Cleopatra, King of the jungle, etc.

And it was there that he began to find himself.

He died in Bordeaux on November 4, 1917.

I'm still reading up on Padilla; what I have above is just an intro of what's to come.

The film Chocolat, which will star Omar Sy as Padilla, is set to begin shooting in spring 2014.

When we know more, so will you!

This article is related to: Omar Sy


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