Tuesday, December 8, 2009

South African Actors Up in Arms Over Jennifer Hudson's Casting as Winnie Mandela

Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson, recently cast to play Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in 'Winnie' -- a new film about the wife of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president -- has come in for some flack for being cast in the role.

According to AFP and other sources, the Creative Workers Union of South Africa, a group representing that country's actors, said "using foreign actors to tell the country's stories undermined efforts to develop the national film industry ... It can't happen that we want to develop our own Hollywood and yet bring in imports," the union's president Mabutho Sithole said in the Citizen newspaper.

In addition, the IOL, a South African news site representing a host of South African newspapers, asked its readers in November if Jennifer Hudson was the right choice to play Winnie Mandela; 64% responded in the negative.

The film will be directed in South Africa by South African filmmaker Darrell J. Roodt, whose movies include 'Cry, the Beloved Country' and 'Sarafina.' Although Madikizela-Mandela stood by her husband during his years of imprisonment in South Africa, her image was tarnished when she was associated with a bodyguard involved in a murder; she was later convicted of fraud for stealing from a funeral fund. The Mandelas were divorced in 1996.

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