Anne Boleyn: Beloved – Betrayed – Butchered – Black

Before I typed the first word here, I knew that this post will probably make some people angry, but I’ve decided to write it anyway.  Namely because I feel there’s a line being crossed that shouldn’t be, because once this particular line is crossed, there’s no going back.  At first what we see may seem insignificant, but something as small as a snowball can start an avalanche.

What happens when the actual facts of history are distorted if not totally obliterated?

Now I understand that race, for quite some time, has been a sore point with many different people of many different factions in this country and even more so during the past few years and that instead of trying to fix anything, there are those that just want to fan the flames.  I’m not trying to do that here, I’m just trying to make sense of people deliberately changing historical facts to alleviate blowback from certain groups.  I myself am a member of the human race and as such see other people, no matter their race, as fellow humans.

With that being said, whose idea was it to have a black woman play Anne Boleyn?  Anne lived during the 16th century in England, the second wife of one of the most notorious English kings in history. A woman who was white.

I’ve been a fan of Tudor history for quite some time and Anne Boleyn is one of the most memorable parts of that history. I was searching the other day for videos or movies about her and I found a three episode drama that originally aired on a British television network in June of 2021 titled, “Anne Boleyn”.

Anne was played in this production by Jodie Turner-Smith, a black British actress.

I actually enjoyed her portrayal of Anne, she was haughty and snarky and self-assured right up until the time they were about to throw her in the tower and I could see the character clearly.  However, regardless of the fact that she did a fine job in the role, she’s not a white woman, and Anne was.  What does this say about taking historical facts and turning them any which way is chosen?  Her brother, George, was also portrayed by a black actor, but their Uncle Norfolk, a blood relative, was  played by a red-headed white man.  Do what?

If this hadn’t been something that was supposed to deliver information backed by historical fact, I wouldn’t be writing this.  I don’t have a single problem with black women acting in any role they’re capable of bringing flesh to unless it’s something like this where it’s a well-known fact that the person they’re acting as was a white woman.  Take the show Bridgerton, which is based on novels written about the competitive world of high society in London during the early 1800’s, also known as “The Regency” years.  The queen, various dukes and earls, and ladies are portrayed by black actors and actresses. Even though I know there wasn’t a plethora of black dukes, earls, ladies and queens in England at that time, it doesn’t affect my historical sensibilities because it’s a fictional story.  A really good one too; at least I’m enjoying it.

I wouldn’t like to see Meryl Streep  acting as Rosa Parks, but it wouldn’t have anything to do with Meryl not being suited to the role, that woman can play anything. It would be that she wasn’t black and it would be historically incorrect for her to play Rosa.  Do we need to restructure history with such blaring inaccuracies?  Particularly considering  how younger generations seem to believe everything they see and there is too much effort as it is to paint history with whatever convenient brush is being wielded at the given time.

As philosopher George Santayana said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

What’s your take?


  1. Well, now we know why she was beheaded. Henry VII felt betrayed because she COMPLETELY misrepresented herself. She was black.

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