Dakota Fanning plays a Muslim woman, faces backlash

Muslim Representation

Dakota Fanning broke her silence about her controversial new role in her upcoming film Sweetness in the Belly. The actress, 25, shared a statement on her Instagram Stories on Wednesday to give insight into why she accepted the role of a Muslim woman in the drama. Her statement came on the heels of some users protesting her casting on Twitter believing she had taken the role from black Ethiopian actresses. “Just to clarify. In the new film I’m a part of, Sweetness in the Belly, I do not play an Ethiopian woman,” Fanning wrote. “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.”

The actress explained the movie was based on a 2005 book of the same name by Camilla Gibb, who wrote about a white Muslim nurse.

The internet, particularly the Muslim community was outraged over being representation by a white woman, when there are scores of Muslim actresses out there. One tweet read, “The problem with this film isn’t Dakota Fanning, the issue is that the pain of the refugee experience, of civil war, and the beauty of Islam, are only palatable to Hollywood when the protagonist is a white woman. If you prick us, do we not bleed?”