Jodie Turner-Smith is set to star as Henry VIII’s second wife in a “reimagining” of Anne Boleyn’s life.
Airing on Channel 5, producers are said to have used identity-conscious casting.
Who was Anne Boleyn?
If you cast your mind back to secondary school history class, Henry VIII’s notorious reign of England in the 1500’s is likely prominent in your brain.
Anne Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII and, thus, the Queen of England between 1533 and 1536. Though, Boleyn’s life quickly became ill-fated and, in 1536, she was beheaded on charges of treason, adultery, and incest.
To this day, historians believe that Boleyn was rather a woman who lived ahead of her time. From her time spent at the French court, Anne was considered fashionable for the time, along with being witty and intelligent.
Was Anne Boleyn black?
As a society, we have a lack of evidence surrounding the appearance of most historical figures. Though, a portrait of Anne Boleyn is hung in the National Portrait Gallery, depicting a white woman. Having a black woman portray Boleyn was rather a casting choice for the series.
Producers carefully crafted an ‘identity-conscious’ cast, rather looking through the lens of feminism as they brought Anne Boleyn to life.
Channel 5 had a direct vision for Anne, in line to resonate with a ‘contemporary audience’: “She’s openly ambitious: she wants to a be a great Queen, making waves in her own lifetime, and leaving a legacy in her child, who will one day rule in her place.”
In an interview with Radiotimes.com, Mark Stanley, who stars as Henry VIII, likened Jodie Turner-Smith to Anne Boleyn: “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.”
Furthermore, Channel 5 added that they were not looking to be held back by usual constraints of period dramas, commenting: “Actors from minority backgrounds that are not often represented on screen can therefore claim parts that correspond to their personal identities, without being limited by them.”
How to watch Channel 5’s Anne Boleyn series
The series aired on Channel 5 yesterday (1st June) at 9pm.
Catch up on the episode via My5.