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