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86th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

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Director John Ridley is receiving major backlash for not including more Black women in his new series Guerilla, but his reason behind the decision is what has everyone talking.

In the upcoming Showtime series, Idris Elba, Freida Pinto and Babou Ceesay play activists in London attempting to free a political prisoner in the 1970s. Viewers who attended a London screening of the series couldn’t help but notice the lack of Black women revolutionaries being depicted. The Hollywood Reporter reports that during the Q&A segment, one attendee asked, “Surely, Black women existed in the ’70’s, and in the movement. But, why aren’t they on the screen?”

Ridley responded, “I said previously, I think the characters in this story are complicated across the board, so the concept that any one person is somehow better, or more elevated, or more appropriate than any other individual, I’m sorry, I don’t accept that.” The Oscar winner continued, “I don’t want to make this overly personal, but part of why I chose to have a mixed-race couple at the center of this is that I’m in a mixed-race relationship. The things that are being said here, and how we are often received, is very equivalent to what’s going on right now. My wife is a fighter, my wife is an activist, and yet, because our races are different, there are a lot of things we have to still put up with.”

Ridley defended his comments on Monday amid criticism, saying that it was odd to hear that people “feel as though I’m not putting enough women of color in spaces.” He continued, “I would say very sincerely to anybody, if they find fault with what I’m doing or how I’m doing it, you don’t need to wait for me to tell your stories. You don’t need anybody’s permission to go out and tell the story you want to tell.”

Guerrilla premieres on Showtime on Sunday, April 16. Check out his comments in the clip above.

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