Petition: Reconsider casting Thandie Newton in ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’

by Chi Ibe

 We published yesterday news about the screen adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s bestselling novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun” which will include Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dominic Cooper and Thandie Newton as the leading stars in the upcoming film.

But news about Newton playing the role of an Igbo woman did not go down well with people believing she does not look, act or speak like an Igbo woman therefore was a false representation and sent the wrong message to how young African women saw themselves.

In this light, a petition created by Ashley Akunna  to reconsider the casting of Newton went up on the website and as at last night, it already had 100 signatures.

Read the petition here:

Upon hearing that ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, a wonderfully written book, would be adapted for the big screen, I like other Igbos were extremely excited. However, I am disturbed by the casting of Thandie Newton as an Igbo woman. 

Igbo people like any other people range in physical characteristics as well as complexion. However, the majority of Igbos are dark brown in complexion. Igbo people do not look like the bi-racial Thandie Newton. Thandie Newton is an accomplished and talented actress in her own right. However, she is not Igbo, she is not Nigerian, and she does not physically resemble Igbo women in the slightest.

As a result, I have created this petition to demand the following things: 

1. The use of Igbo men, women, and children, who look like the majority of Igbo people (which means brown in complexion) in the leading roles of the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s, Half of a Yellow Sun. 

This petition is important, because we live in a world where mass media sells us the belief that white, and anything close to white is right, and black is not only wrong, it is unattractive, and undesirable. We are indoctrinated into these beliefs consciously and sub-consciously through media images.

 Like many other countries in Africa, Nigeria suffers from the epidemic of skin bleaching. Many Nigerian women buy lotions, to lighten their once dark skin to become lighter. This practice has not only severe medical side effects; it is preaching an acceptance of self-hate. The media plays a large role in how people, especially women view themselves. 

The casting of Thandie Newton as an Igbo woman is not only false, it helps promote the idea that light skin and curly hair is the only way black woman can be represented in the media, because that is the only way they are attractive. This casting choice is an abomination to Igboland. 

This petition is not an attack on Thandie Newton or bi-racial people. It is simply a demand for accuracy and authenticity. 

Failure by the producers of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, to meet these requirements will result in the failure of everyone who signs this petition to support Half of a Yellow Sun when it is available in theatres or for purchase.

 To sign the petition, log on to


Comments (4)

  1. Where can i get more information about the casting of this film? WHo is playing Olanna!

  2. Mmm tricky. As a Black Brit I welcome that the book will be made into a movie. Am I too bothered as to who will be playing the female lead? We know she has to be black but does the part have to be played by an Igbo, Hausa or Zulu. Was I worried when the African American actor Forrest Whittaker played idi Amin, or whenever David Oyelowo plays a West Indian/Black Brit or when Antonio Okonma played the Jamaican girl Darlene Cake in Bad Girls? Of course not because it is all acting. And good acting of the highest!! In the same way Meeryl Streep plays Margaret Thatcher to perfection then I would expect a 'black' actor to do exactly the same, whether the character is African or not. I agree that since Ngozi did not make the female character 'light-skinned' then Hollywood should not use a light skinned woman just to make the movie palatable to audiences. A beautiful actress like Viola Davis could have been given the part.

  3. Hmm, means Genevieve or Stephanie Okereke should get ready for this role. I was also stunned to know Olanna's role may be played by someone not Nigerian.

    I support the petition, if it is certain someone un-Igbo is assigned Olanna's role.

  4. Ah ah!! Well, I just signed. No hate or bitterness, just not cool with the choice as well.

    Ynaija, please can I have your twitter account, make I follow una o. Lol

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