- Netflix’s new Black western “The Harder They Fall” premiered in London on Wednesday.
- The film has been embroiled in a debate around colorism in Hollywood over Zazie Beetz’s casting.
- “We do have a way of separating ourselves,” star Jonathan Majors responded during a press conference.
‘s “The Harder They Fall” — which boasts an all-Black cast who portray fictionalized versions of real-life historical Black people — has been embroiled in a wider discussion about colorism in Hollywood.
It’s been the topic of discussion on social media since its A-list cast was announced with critics questioning whether it was appropriate for actor Zazie Beetz — who’s best known for her work on FX’s “Atlanta” and is a light-skinned Black woman — to be cast in the role of dark-skinned Black woman Mary Fields, commonly known as Stagecoach Mary, the first Black female mail carrier who was previously enslaved.
One of the film’s stars, Jonathan Majors — who’s best known for his work on HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” — was asked during a Wednesday press conference for the film, which opened the 2021 London Film Festival on Wednesday evening, how the “The Harder They Fall” could help bring unity amongst members of the African diaspora across the world.
As he began to speak, Majors said his answer might be “slightly controversial.”
“I think the best progress is when we can all be one,” he began. “From my experience, we do have a way of separating ourselves.”
“In Memphis, it’s ‘they’re Baptists down the street.’ We’ve labeled ourselves: I’m African American, I’m light-skinned, you’re dark-skinned,” Majors continued, seemingly addressing why the film received backlash. “We do separate ourselves and I think it’s through storytelling, through the progress of seeing the separation, and trying to figure out what brings us together. And in most cases, it’s a very spiritual conflict.”
The Jay-Z-produced film also stars Idris Elba and Regina King, who also joined director Jeymes Samuel and Majors for the festival’s first in-person press conference since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Harder They Fall,” premiering October 6 at London’s Royal Festival Hall before its launch on Netflix October 22, also stars LaKeith Stanfield, Deon Cole, and Delroy Lindo.