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Ciri To Be Played By BAME Actress In The Netflix Series, Showrunner Leaves Twitter Due To Backlash

A casting call for the forthcoming Witcher series for Netflix which asked for a BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) actress to play Ciri has provoked a backlash on the internet, causing showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich to leave Twitter.

‘Fans’ have set up a Change.org petition to open up the casting to actors of all ethnicity and it currently has 38,000 signatures on it. Here’s the text from the petition.

A recent casting call for Ciri in the Netflix TV show The Witcher, has been revealed to be “looking for a 16 or 15 year old BAME girl.” For those unaware, BAME stands for Black, Asain, and non white minority ethnic backgrounds. The Witcher is a Polish series of novels set in a Eastern European, medieval fantasy world. I, as well as many other fans of this series belive that the best actress, not the most diverse actress, should be cast as Ciri.

Ms. Hissrish has previously tweeted about minorities and expained that the creator of the series, Andrzej Sapkowski, has spoken to her and has approved of her plans.

“Will there be minorities?” she tweeted, “Yes. A man would be a minority in Brokilon Forest. A person of color would be a minority in a small village. An islander would be an minority in Cintra. Mr. Sapkowski has said — publicly, and to me — that the Continent is big and diverse in its population, in every way (race, culture, gender, and yes, occasionally skin color, which he said he did not always specify). I’m not sure how people insinuate I’m destroying the books by recognizing that. I’m honoring the author’s own intentions. He told me so himself.”

I’m not sure if Ciri’s skin colour was ever described in the books, she’s Caucasian the games so perhaps people are using that as the basis for their opinions. JK Rowling had to speak up a while back when a black actress was cast as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter stage play, pointing out that she never specified the colour of the characters skin.

Source: Twitter / Reset Era 

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20 Comments
  1. ron_mcphatty
    Member
    Since: Sep 2008

    Urgh, positive discrimination is nauseating. I got pestered at work last year to fill out an ethnicity profile, presumably for the companie’s public stats, and since I was the only one out of my team I guess it’s becaue my surname is Patel. This year I’m getting the odd pestering email because I didn’t want to and HR think I should consider BAME an important social issue. What’s more important is actually dealing with racism, which they’re not… ‘Don’t worry about him, he’ll’ be retiring soon’
    Sorry, rant over, I feel better now!

    Comment posted on 12/09/2018 at 16:23.
    • kjkg
      Member
      Since: Apr 2010

      And so ends the dream that your surname is in actual fact McPhatty!

      Comment posted on 12/09/2018 at 16:29.
      • MrYd
        Member
        Since: Mar 2011

        It’s obviously his middle name in that case.

        Comment posted on 12/09/2018 at 16:48.
  2. PoorPaddy89
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    Ciri is described as pale in the books. Mostly she’s described by her hair colour, but the fact she’s Caucasian is mentioned.
    It’s a difficult one really. I can understand that Polish fans are particularly upset as the Witcher is a proud part of Polish culture, and being based on medieval Poland they want someone representative of that. The flip side though is that no such fuss was kicked up over Henry Cavill – he might be white but he’s still not Polish.

    Having read more on Reddit earlier today, there’s still some chance that the casting is either 1) fake or 2) they are actively seeking out different ethnicities for the same role, as there is rumoured to be a separate Caucasian casting for Ciri as well.

    In the end, there’s no point getting upset about it until we get some hard facts. If the best actress for Ciri happens to be BAME, I personally don’t see a problem with it. If it’s to fulfil some sort of quota though, that’s no good for anyone.

    Comment posted on 12/09/2018 at 16:26.
    • MrYd
      Member
      Since: Mar 2011

      It looks like her skin colour isn’t specified in the books. At least not in the original Polish. Only her hair colour. And then an English translation added skin colour.

      And anyway, that doesn’t really matter, does it? The books exist, they’re not going to suddenly change. Does it make any difference what any of the characters in the Netflix series end up being like? If anyone thinks it does, then either don’t watch it and stick to the books where you can imagine any of the characters being whatever you want, or try being just a tiny little bit less of a racist.

      Comment posted on 12/09/2018 at 16:48.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        Interesting opinion. Especially where you have a binary view of things and no subtlety or gradation between. :-\

        Comment posted on 12/09/2018 at 18:22.
      • double-o-dave
        Member
        Since: Nov 2008

        I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t be a thing if it wasn’t for the game, & I’m pretty sure that most people who play the game would like to see the characters represented in a similar way as it’s what they’ve grown to love – so expecting Ciri to be played by a white woman who looks similar to the game character is in no way whatsoever racist! Jesus Christ!
        In fact, if anyone is being remotely racist, it’s Lauren (whatever her name is) only wanting BAME actresses to audition.
        Oh shit, I guess I’m now being sexist as I said actress as opposed to ‘actor’ or any other trans gender, god knows what title he or she or them or it goes by whom may want to audition

        Comment posted on 12/09/2018 at 22:08.
      • Old School
        Member
        Since: Jan 2009

        You really are a Alt-left nut job. Anyone who has a nuanced opinion that doesn’t fall in line with your regressive world view is “racist”.

        People like you are the real racists. And before you have a hissy fit and call me right wing, I’m a libertarian left… Which is probably still far right compared to where you are on the political compass.

        I’ve come across your comment too often, and you stand out as being a hateful far leftist ideologue that’s bigoted to anyone with a different opinion to you.

        Why not try and debate with people in a reasonable manner instead of screeching “racist” at them?

        Grow up, kid.

        And reply all you want, but I’m not ticking the box to notify me of any reply. You’re clearly a hateful little man that tries to hide it behind the umbrella of being “progressive”.

        Comment posted on 13/09/2018 at 04:14.
  3. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    She’s pale. Hell, even one of the books described an imposter posing to be her and extremely pale. She’s clearly going to be gaunt/almost bone-china-white looking.

    Not just that but the franchise has never had to be corrected or have the writers come out and say “oh, god…we’re patching the game. Ciri’s white and she’s supposed to be black!”.

    I completely understand why people are frustrated about this. Sure, there’ll be some fringe whack-jobs out there but ignore the racists and realise that it’s actually okay to have Ciri being white. I think I’d still watch it if Ciri was a far darker colour but I’d want to know why? The character is well established, especially visually. Also, looking at the history of Eastern Europe/Polish homogeneity, the idea that it could be a predominantly Caucasian cast makes perfect sense. Sprinkle in a bit of something else, sure… but once again, not sure why this needs changing for TV – if that’s their agenda.

    Comment posted on 12/09/2018 at 18:34.
    • Tuffcub
      On the naughty step.
      Since: Dec 2008

      Why does it need changing for TV is a good question, but I think the answer is quite simple, shows with large casts try and represent their audience, so you get a mix of races, genders, and increasingly these days, sexualities.

      Does changing the race if Ciri change her character in anyway? I can’t see how it would, as long as the actress does a good job there’s no problem.

      Starbuck in the rebooted Battlestar Galatica was a blonde female, a complete reverse of what the character should be, and she was bloody awesome. Spider-Man has changed race, Wally and Iris West in the Flash TV series are black rather than white, MJ in the latest Spider-Man film, Idris Elba is played Heimdall and is about as far away from a white blonde norse as you can get and he kicked arse.

      Valkyrie in the last Thor, Johnny Storm in the last F4 movie, Nick Fury is meant to be white, anyone going to tell Samuel Jackson?

      Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea was white, he’s indian, Uhuru went from black american to Hispanic, Jake Gyllenhall clearly isnt Persian in Prince of Persia, I Am Legend’s Robert Neville swapped race, Ford Prefect in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie, Hogun in the THor movies, Jimmy Olsen in the Supergil TV series, Bane has gone from a Hispanic Luchador to.. whatever Tom Hardy was trying to do, Aquaman is being played by Jason Mamoa, who hasnt got white skin and blonde hair.

      Comment posted on 13/09/2018 at 10:06.
      • MrYd
        Member
        Since: Mar 2011

        Watch it! You’re sounding like an alt-left nutjob racist with your big list and reasonable arguments.

        Add another one for Idris Elba to the list too. The Dark Tower? Which obviously I didn’t see because cramming 7 books into 1 film was a stupid idea. The main character is clearly white in the books, described as looking like Clint Eastwood. There’s also a whole plot with a black character and racism. Even then it still doesn’t matter that a black actor played him, because they just removed that racism stuff, the whole series of books is about multiple worlds where things can be different, and anyway, Idris Elba was a good choice. And Stephen King seemed quite happy with the choice.

        Shame they made such a mess of it though.

        And wasn’t Tom Hardy as Bane just him being Tom Hardy? He’s great, but can be accused of mumbling at times, so putting him in a mask was probably a bad idea.

        Ford Prefect in the H2G2 film probably doesn’t count either. Douglas Adams always treated every version (radio,tv,books,film) as a completely different thing, Ford was an alien, so race probably doesn’t matter anyway, and I don’t think it was ever mentioned what race he appeared to be. Obviously he was played by a white actor on TV and radio.

        You’re totally correct with your reason why it “needs” changing though. Why would someone like Netflix with millions of customers in countries all over the world stick to everyone being 1 race if it really doesn’t matter and risk an enormous chunk of their audience thinking “nothing for me there, it’s all white men”. Good business sense, and really doesn’t matter artistically.

        Comment posted on 13/09/2018 at 10:38.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        Your examples are spot on, fella. It’s precisely why I’d understand if people were miffed over any given franchise that they feel close to and why it won’t bother them if it’s something they’ve not heard of.

        It bothers me but nothing more than that. However, as mentioned, the agenda behind it would disconcert me more assuming it’s backed by something more nefarious. If not, truly, no problem to me. Just a very strange casting choice if they still go down the BAME route when the visuals are so clearly defined already.

        Does changing the race if Ciri change her character in anyway?

        Wrong question, in a way. Does it change how the viewers feel about her? Yes. To some of them, it would. To some it would be too much of a change. For others, not so. This is the bit Netflix has to weigh up.

        On a side note, the whole “represent our audience” thing pisses me off rotten. I couldn’t care less. If I lived in Japan and didn’t see a single white person on TV, I’d cope! :-)

        Comment posted on 13/09/2018 at 12:08.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        That reply was to Tuffcub. Blast this lack of indentation. :D

        Comment posted on 13/09/2018 at 12:09.
      • Tuffcub
        On the naughty step.
        Since: Dec 2008

        I went out bowling last night with the bears. I live in London, so there were white guys, asian guys, black guys, guys who used be girls, guys of every shape and size and from many countries, in fact a Croatian friend of mine came for the first time.

        That’s normal for me because I live in a big city, I understand that if you live somewhere a little more rural your probably going to only have mates who are white, but why should TV represent your life and not mine.

        TV shows are made in big cities, so naturally the represent a more diverse range of characters than you get than in some sleepy village in oxfordshire.

        Comment posted on 13/09/2018 at 13:31.
      • double-o-dave
        Member
        Since: Nov 2008

        I’m not too sure they have bowling alleys in The Nilfgaard Empire or Northern Kingdoms… Just saying ;)

        Comment posted on 13/09/2018 at 13:43.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        Tuffcub – but that doesn’t hold water here. This is about it resonating with a visually defined character both in the book and in the games. Why can’t she be white? The culture is based Slavic culture and it’s easy to see why the majority of folk in such a fantasy (book/game) would be white. However, if we remove the international success of the game, I can easily concede that such a franchise could be heavily modified, visually, and a lot more people would be okay with it.

        Personally, I don’t care where TV shows are made. I want them to represent things to whatever detail seems sensible.

        If a fantasy fiction franchise revolved around the Buganda Kingdom (in Uganda) and had established most of the characters to be black, that’s fine with me! Don’t go switching the lead to a white person when it comes to TV. It just smacks of agenda-driven nonsense.

        “Why should TV represent your life and not mine?”
        Why does it have to represent yours OR mine? Sod that. Represent the culture it’s from or whatever makes sense with regards to the lore of the fiction.

        God knows I’m not hankering for a Welsh, male version of Orange is the New Black. :-P Whatever the show is, stop trying to meet quotas. Change the system from the ground up instead of the top down.

        Not for a moment do I need to see all people represented on TV. Same goes for if I was in a foreign land with nary a white face to see other than my own. However, Nigerian writer with a great idea and a stellar cast predominately or exclusively black? Bring it on. Sounds great!

        Whatever makes sense to the franchise – not to the overly sensitive people watching it. I don’t include you in that, just to be sure. ;-)

        Comment posted on 13/09/2018 at 16:22.
      • MrYd
        Member
        Since: Mar 2011

        “Why can’t she be white?”

        Why can’t she be anything else? She was white in the game, but possibly undefined in the books (depending on the translation). But a Netflix series isn’t a book or game. It can do whatever it wants.

        In what way does it matter if she’s not white? Obviously you’ll need to base any answer on the finished Netflix series and not just “she was white in this other thing, or I imagined she was white based on something else”.

        And before any more accusations of being an “alt-left nutjob” come my way, I should point out I don’t object to any of the recent casting of white people as characters that were originally not white that some people have got all upset about. Because it really doesn’t matter who plays a fictional character, even if they’ve been portrayed as something else before.

        Comment posted on 13/09/2018 at 17:17.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        She can be BAME but it makes no sense to me. It’s a franchise I care about which is why I have the opinion about the character in the first place. However, if someone else loves the franchise and doesn’t mind what colour Ciri is, that’s fine with me as well.

        More importantly, what’s powering the choice behind going down the non-white route?

        Let’s bring it back to my question. Why can’t she be white? You skated neatly around that.

        Comment posted on 13/09/2018 at 18:11.
      • MrYd
        Member
        Since: Mar 2011

        No reason why she couldn’t be white, except for the fact that they want something else, for whatever reason.

        Netflix gives quite a bit of freedom to people to make things how they want to make them with no censorship. Sometimes showing things I doubt anyone else would allow. (Graphic depictions of suicide? Real scenes of childbirth?). But they’re still a business. Their stuff needs to be profitable, in whatever way they measure that. (Not “we can sell adverts on that”, or selling it to someone else. Or even how many people watch it. It seems to be far more subtle than that).

        Adding characters of various races to appeal to more people makes sense. Or having a show about a load of women. (Although Orange is the New Black is worth watching for everyone). It’s not about any quota or agenda or anything. It’s just about money. And that doesn’t usually interfere with anything artistically. If it’s not profitable enough, they’ll stop making it, just like anyone else.

        So no reason why she has to be anything. Doesn’t have to be white just because she was in the game. Doesn’t have to be anything else. But plenty of reasons why they could have decided to look for someone of any particular race, or nothing specific at all.

        (And anyone getting upset at Netflix over this should probably avoid some of their other stuff. Sense8 for a start. Every possible gender, race and sexuality included there, created by an old white man and 2 women. Plus nudity, violence and real childbirth. And a Doctor Who.)

        Comment posted on 13/09/2018 at 18:54.
      • bunimomike
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        Weird that Ciri is the choice, though. They could have changed anyone in a lesser role. Hell, if they wanted more diversity they could have included many more in the supporting roles.

        It smacks of diversity quotas and they’re usually driven by agenda. That I will never tolerate.

        Comment posted on 13/09/2018 at 21:15.