"Just straight up disrespectful and a slap in the face."
British actress Cynthia Erivo portrays Harriet Tubman in the drama that hit theaters earlier this month. There has been some minor controversy over the fact that Cynthia is not of American heritage but all of that is nothing in comparison to the recent revelation that a studio executive once suggested that Julia Roberts should play the role. Apparently, when individuals made it clear that Julia could never take on such a part, the studio exec responded: "It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference."
Amy Sussman/Getty Images
Harriet's great-great-great-grandniece, Tina Wyatt, chatted with TMZ about the latter and said that if Julia did for some reason take the role a boycott would have been started. "Our history was important and it is important and we know the difference. It was important years ago even before it was in our history books. When I was a child it was important," Tina said. "[...] We were not ignorant of those things. Whoever that was to say that we 'would not know the difference' is just straight up disrespectful and a slap in the face."
Tina further explained how the statement is an "insult."
Gregory Allen Howard who brought the film to life explained just how he knew that Cynthia was the one for the film. "I first saw her when the other producers flew me to New York to see her in The Color Purple. As soon as she opened her mouth, I thought, 'Yes, that's Harriet.' Afterwards I emailed the other producers, 'That's Harriet. She's a little stick of dynamite,'" he said.