Sharon Duncan-Brewster, a black British actress who plays a prominent part in the newly released sci-fi picture ‘Dune,’ was included with other cast members in the film’s original posters. However, the actress is not featured in the new poster created for the Chinese market. She has Trinidadian heritage.
Duncan-Brewster’s character is an environmentalist-turned-diplomat who helps a noble house seize control of a mining planet in a faraway galaxy in the new adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel.
Duncan-Brewster played Dr. Liet Kynes in the film, a character who, paradoxically, was characterized as a white guy in the original Frank Herbert novel.
The actress is prominently featured on the film’s UK and US posters, but she has been removed from Chinese advertising, according to sources.
The China Africa Project, a US-based organization that strives to investigate “every aspect of China’s engagement with Africa,” pointed out Sharon’s removal from the artwork.
The organization deleted the tweet after the publishing of an article in the Global Times, a major media source linked with the Communist Party of China, which stated that the China-Africa Project “seeks to undermine China-Africa relations” with its publication.
According to the Daily Mail, Chinese officials dismissed the allegations as a ‘smear,’ but could not explain why the black actress’s face was deleted from promotional materials for Dune.
Duncan-Brewster’s removal from the poster is particularly noteworthy because it has occurred previously. The photo of black actor John Boyega, who portrayed one of the key characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was substantially reduced on the Chinese edition of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster in 2015.
Duncan-Brewster and Boyega have both shown open support for the radical Black Lives Matter movement, with Boyega even leading a BLM rally in London last year. The Dune star has remained silent about the alleged racial harassment she has received in China as of this writing.
It’s unclear whether the new poster was created by Warner Bros. or Legendary East, the Chinese distribution company. Both companies have yet to respond to the situation.
Activists claim that big Hollywood companies have altered their films in order to avoid upsetting the CCP, which has threatened to ban any picture it deems controversial.
American films have gone to great lengths to avoid offending Beijing’s delicate sensibilities, and several have recently begun to extensively include Chinese actors in an apparent attempt to expand market share in the enormous economy.
Marvel was accused of ‘whitewashing’ a Tibetan character from its 2016 film ‘Dr Strange’ in 2020, allegedly due to concerns that it would hinder the film’s chances in China. Tilda Swinton, a British actress, was cast in the role.
Dune was released in China last Friday, but it was outperformed by a local production called The Battle at Lake Changin at the box office.