Taraji P. Henson hits back at The Best of Enemies language critics
The star hasn't been afraid to fight back against detractors online.
Actress Taraji P. Henson has defended the style of speech she adopts to play civil rights activist Ann Atwater in her new movie The Best of Enemies, insisting it's all accurate.
The Hidden Figures star features opposite Sam Rockwell in the historical drama, about the unlikely real-life relationship between Atwater and Ku Klux Klan leader C.P. Ellis back in 1971, when they teamed up to work on the desegregation of schools in Durham, North Carolina.
Trailers for the film have shown Henson speaking in a casual Southern dialect as Atwater, but some people have taken to social media to complain about the portrayal, accusing the actress of dumbing down her character.
"My grand mother (sic) and a lot of my family is from the south and was in this era. None of them talk in that broken lingo that Taraji is doing," one moaned on Twitter. "It's so offensive to depict blks (blacks) speaking like this when it's not true. A lot of blks in that era was educated and spoke normally (sic)."
However, Henson, who has been responding to some of her detractors online, has advised them to do their own research into Atwater's life before passing comment.
"It's unfortunate because they're judging something they have not seen yet, just because this is of the era of civil rights and she talks a certain kind of way," the actress tells USA Today. "I've actually confronted some of those tweets by telling them just to Google her. We didn't make this up."
Henson also bristles at the suggestion that the storyline of The Best of Enemies is too similar to that of Oscar-winning biopic Green Book, about celebrated pianist Don Shirley's real-life tour of the Deep South in 1960s segregated America with his prejudiced Italian-American driver and bodyguard, Tony Lip.
"I did see Green Book and I don't see the similarities," she declares.
Instead, Henson is just excited to have Atwater's story play out on the big screen: "She didn't bite her tongue," the star says. "She knew what was right and what was wrong, and she fought for justice for people who were being oppressed. It upset her and every breath of her body was to fight against that."
The Best of Enemies, based on Osha Gray Davidson's 1996 book of the same name, is written and directed by Robin Bissell, and opens in U.S. theatres this week (05Apr19).
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