The cast of Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power continues to claim they are victims of racist with Sophia Nomvete doubling down on her previous claims.
During an appearance at The Hollywood Reporter’s Raising Our Voices luncheon and specifically in a discussion titled “The State of Inclusion in Storytelling,” Nomvete relayed that her being cast as Disa “was a huge moment, both personally and professionally. And I think I kind of skipped in naively thinking that it’s gonna be great. I’m a dwarf, it’s gonna be such fun.”
From there she claimed she repeatedly attacked, “When the announcement came out and pictures went up about just our faces of who we were playing, I was statistically the most attacked castmember of the entire show.”
She continued, “There were N-bombs, I had no place here. ‘You’re too fat, you’re too black. Why are you here?’ I had one that was actually very polite, who said, ‘I’m sure that you’re a wonderful actress and a really lovely person. I just, I don’t think you should be part of this, it’s not right. If you could potentially just send a letter to Amazon with your resignation, I’d be very grateful.'”
“I thought, ‘No, I’m not going to do that, I can’t.’ I can’t afford to resign for you, so sadly I’m here to stay,” Nomvete said.
She went on to claim that getting paid to play the race-swapped character “is an act of defiance.”
The actress asserted, “I realized that my place in this show is not just a celebration, it is an act of defiance against a reality that is simply not true, which is that we have no place on screens or in fantasy spaces.”
Nomvete is intentionally lying as most of the criticism surrounding the casting has not been about black people not being allowed on screens or in fantasy spaces. It has been about the show diverging from Tolkien’s source material whether that’s in how the characters look in Princess Disa’s case, or how the show characterized Galadriel, Elrond, and Gil-galad, or even how it depicted the forging of the three Elven rings.
In fact, it’s not hard to imagine that Nomvete is intentionally lying to push this racism narrative because there are numerous example of black people on screens and in fantasy spaces.
One needs only look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe to see that. The universe launched with a stinger credit with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury discussing the Avengers project in 2008’s Iron Man. Jackson is about to reprise his role in both Secret Invasion and The Marvels, which both drop later this year.
One can go back even further and see that James Earl Jones voiced one of the most iconic fantasy character ever created in Darth Vader. He also played Thulsa Doom in Conan the Barbarian back in 1982. Billy Dee Williams joined Jones in Star Wars as Lando Calrissian. He would also play the role of Harvey Dent in 1989’s Batman.
Wesley Snipes also played Blade back in 1998. The film was so successful it turned into a trilogy. Nichelle Nichols played Uhura in Star Trek for 68 episodes between 1966 and 1969. Avery Brooks played Benjamin Sisko for 173 episodes in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine from 1993 to 1999. The list could go on.
Nevertheless, Nomvete attempted to justify this “act of defiance” by regaling the audience with a story about her daughter pointing her out in a billboard on London, “I realized that for her, and for the future of our industry and the generation, it is a must that I stand in my power and my light and do as much as I can with this character.”
“And so I marched to the showrunners and I begged them to make this moment matter. I begged them not to make her subservient or just the wife-of or the funny fat friend. I begged them to make her quite a sexual titan,” she continued.
Nomvete went on, “I went through the seven stages of grief by reading some of the comments, and then understood the assignment. I understood the assignment, and that was to help people understand and to embrace them and love them — you would never disregard a child if they were scared. They’re scared. They’re frightened because they haven’t seen us before.”
“So in that moment and throughout this show, I’ve made it my mission to ease their fear, and to let them understand and to help educate them that it’s OK, that we can tell a story, that we can be here and the show will be better for it, that our industry and our world will be better for it,” she concluded.
Ironically, while Nomvete claims to be a victim, she previously told PA Media that her taking on the role was “redressing the balance within the film and television, television industry and of course, this franchise and I hope, lots of franchises moving forward.”
Despite Amazon having published racial quotas for casting, she also asserted, “These are the best people for the roles but what they’ve done is open up the doors for people of all backgrounds to come forward and have the opportunity to rise.”
She even made it clear her entire purpose of taking on the role was to rewrite Tolkien, “To be part of creating accessibility for generations to come. For new generations this is their version of Tolkien, this is what my daughter will see of Tolkien’s works.”
“It’s their time and it’s so important and I hope many people will see this fantasy and be able to relate to it,” she elaborated. “This is a reflection of the world we live in, there are many and we are different and we will embrace and discover, and peel back, and learn, and educate, and be educated. And we can only do that when we embrace and love our differences.”
Nomvete added, “To be the poster child and to fly the flag, being a mother, being a woman, being a person of colour, being a curvaceous woman deemed as a thing of beauty is something we don’t always see. So that image of Disa… that is all of those things personified in a face, and it happens to be my face.”
What do you make of Nomvete claiming to be a victim after proudly and boldly claiming she knew she was changing Tolkien’s vision to fit her own vision?