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Julian Fellowes: It is important to show positive black achievement onscreen

‘It is important to show positive black achievement onscreen’ – Julian Fellowes (Ian West/ PA)
‘It is important to show positive black achievement onscreen’ – Julian Fellowes (Ian West/ PA)

The creator of Downton Abbey says it is important to show the “positive achievement” of the black community onscreen.

Julian Fellowes said it was not good for younger members of the black community to constantly watch black people “portrayed as victims” by the entertainment industry.

The trailer for new spinoff film Downton Abbey: A New Era features a black woman and Fellowes’ new drama The Gilded Age co-stars Denee Benton as an aspiring writer.

BFI and IWC Gala Dinner – London
Julian Fellowes said it was not good for younger members of the black community to constantly watch black people ‘portrayed as victims’ onscreen (Ian West/ PA)

Speaking to the Radio Times, Fellowes said he tries to write “not with a woke hat on but with a slight hat on of some sort”.

On The Gilded Age, which is set in 1880s New York, he said: “When I was reading around that period, I came across Carla L Peterson’s book Black Gotham, which is about the black middle-class in New York in the late 19th century.

“I wasn’t really even aware that there was a black middle-class in New York [at that time].”

He continued: “I suppose I do feel, not with a woke hat on but with a slight hat on of some sort, that it’s not good for the younger black community to constantly watch black people being portrayed as victims.

“I think it’s why sports people and people in the entertainment world are so important because it’s about positive achievement.

“I think it was fun for Denee to play a dynamic part in a costume drama. Well, she found it interesting enough to take the part, which is what matters to me”.

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