Dakota Fanning receives flak for playing white Muslim refugee

Actor on Wednesday took to Instagram and responded to criticism

Entertainment Desk September 05, 2019

Hollywood actor Dakota Fanning has found herself in a controversy this week after the first look of her upcoming film, Sweetness in the Belly, was revealed.

In the first clip of the adaptation of Camilla Gibbs’s 2005 novel of the same name, we see Fanning playing a white Muslim woman orphaned in Ethiopia, reported Deadline.

Gibbs’s book tells the story of Lilly, a British orphan who travels to Ethiopia after being raised in Morocco and is eventually forced to flee Ethiopia for England amid political unrest in the Seventies.


In London, she embraces the Muslim immigrant community, attempting to reunite people with their scattered families. However, her mission isn’t purely selfless: a passionate lost love affair is revealed between her and an idealistic doctor.

However, many weren't all too impressed with the Once Upon A Time in Hollywood actor's casting as a Muslim or 'a white Ethiopian.'

The 25-year-old starlet was called out for cultural misappropriation. The makers of the film were also criticised for casting a prominent white actor to play a Muslim.



Fanning on Wednesday took to Instagram and responded to criticism.

“Just to clarify. In the new film I’m part of, Sweetness in the Belly, I do not play an Ethiopian woman. I play a British woman abandoned by her parents at seven years old in Africa and raised a Muslim," the Twilight star wrote.


“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," she continued. "This film was partly made in Ethiopia, is directed by an Ethiopian man (Zeresenay Berhane Mehari) and features many Ethiopian women. It was a great privilege to be part of telling this story.”

However, some commented that the film is only justifying the book.


Sweetness in the Belly also stars Bafta winning actor Wunmi Mosaku, The Big Bang Theory's Kunal Nayyar and Aquaman actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II., who’ll next be seen in HBO’s Watchmen.

The film will premiere later this month at the Toronto Film Festival.

Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below.


Bunny Rabbit | 4 years ago | Reply Islam is not a race , its a religion. people of many races can belong to this one religion. Wonder what the controversy is all about ?
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ