Dakota Fanning Addresses Whitewashing Claims About Role In Sweetness In The Belly

The actress plays a British woman abandoned by her parents in Africa and raised as a Muslim.

Dakota Fanning has addressed claims of whitewashing in her latest film role.

The actress, who is white, stars in the upcoming adaptation of Sweetness In The Belly, in which she plays a child refugee abandoned in Africa by her parents and raised as a Muslim.

After the first clip of the film was released on Wednesday, some commentators claimed the role should have gone to a woman of colour or someone with experience of being a refugee.

Dakota Fanning
Dakota Fanning
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

However, Dakota has since spoken out to clarify her character’s background, writing on Instagram: “Just to clarify. In the new film I’m part of, Sweetness in the Belly, I do not play an Ethiopian woman. I play a British woman abandoned by her parents at seven years old in Africa and raised Muslim.

“My character, Lilly, journeys to Ethiopia and is caught up in the breakout of civil war. She is subsequently sent ‘home’ to England, a place she is from but has never known.

“Based on a book by Camilla Gibb, this film was partly made in Ethiopia, is directed by an Ethiopian man ( Zeresenay Berhane Mehari ) and features many Ethiopian women. It was a great privilege to be part of telling this story.”

Dakota in Sweetness In The Belly
Dakota in Sweetness In The Belly

She continued: “The film is about what home means to people who find themselves displaced and the families and communities that they choose and that choose them.”

Sweetness In The Belly also stars Bafta-winning actress Wunmi Mosaku, The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar and Aquaman actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

The film will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival later this month.


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