Why is Channel 5's Anne Boleyn a Black woman and what is identity-conscious casting?

THE story of Anne Boleyn is being retold in a Channel 5 drama.

The tragic wife of King Henry VIII is played by actress Jodie Turner-Smith.

Who was the real Anne Boleyn?

Anne Boleyn was born somewhere between 1501 and 1536, and was aged around 28 to 35 when she died.

She was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of King Henry VIII.

Their marriage, and her execution for treason and other charges by beheading, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that marked the start of the English Reformation.

Anne was the daughter of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire, and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Howard.

She was educated in the Netherlands and France, largely as a maid of honour to Queen Claude of France and returned to England in early 1522.

Henry and Anne formally married on January25, 1533, after a secret wedding on November 14, 1532.

On September 7, 1933, she gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I, but Henry was disappointed to have a daughter rather than a son.

Anne subsequently had three miscarriages and by March 1536, Henry was courting Jane Seymour.

In order to marry Jane, Henry had to find reasons to end the marriage to Anne.

Henry had Anne investigated for high treason in April 1536 and by May she was arrested and sent to the Tower of London.

She was convicted on May 15, 1936 and beheaded four days later.

Modern historians view the charges against her, which included adultery, incest and plotting to kill the king, as unconvincing.

Why is Channel 5’s Anne Boleyn a Black woman?

The producers used identity-conscious casting for the series, similar to how theatre productions have long approached casting historical plays.

This means a person's race will not affect them getting the part, even if it is historically inaccurate.

They are instead cast by how they identify with the role and bring that person to life.

As mentioned, actress Jodie Turner-Smith takes on the leading role of Anne Boleyn.

Mark Stanley, who plays Henry VIII told RadioTimes.com, “Jodie has a lot in common with Anne Boleyn. She’s a strong, opinionated, scarily intelligent person.

"She was also bringing up a young child at the time that we were on set, and she’s quite awe-inspiring really. If you put that all in a box, actually, it’s very similar indeed.

He added: “It was all about this being the right person for the job, rather than what we as a society might perceive as the ‘right look’ for the job.

"Anne Boleyn was beautiful, witty, vibrant, intelligent and Jodie is all of those things.

"She brought our Anne to life in a way another actress couldn’t.”

How can I watch Channel 5's Anne Boleyn?

Anne Boleyn continues on Channel 5 at 9pm TONIGHT (June 2, 2021) and will conclude tomorrow.

If you miss any of it you can catch it on My 5.

The series is brought to you by BAFTA Award-winning director Lynsey Miller and was written by Eve Hedderwick Turner.

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