‘They have trouble believing a black person could be a hobbit’: Lenny Henry, 64, speaks out about racism in the fantasy genre

Lenny Henry has spoken out about racism within the fantasy genre as he is set to star in Amazon Prime’s Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power. 

The actor, 64, who portrays the character Sadoc Burrows, one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous tiny hobbits, said that effort was being made to make the genre ‘more inclusive’ after the original Lord of the Rings films featured no Black characters.

In a recent interview with GQ, Lenny said: ‘They have no trouble believing in a dragon, but they do have trouble believing that a Black person could be a member of the court. Or that a Black person could be a hobbit or an elf.’

Open: Lenny Henry has spoken out about racism within the fantasy genre as he is set to star in Amazon Prime’s Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power

‘Actually, storytellers can do what they want, because they’re storytellers. In the reimagining of these stories from 1000 years ago, they are not part of the canon that everybody knows, this is a reimagining and re-weaving of the story.’

Rings of Power and new Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon both include a more inclusive cast. 

Lenny added: ‘JD Payne and Patrick McKay [Rings of Power showrunners] have just gone, ‘What if?’ The greatest two words in storytelling: What if.’

Change: The actor, 64, who portrays the character Sadoc Burrows, one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous tiny hobbits, said that effort was being made to make the genre ‘more inclusive’ 

Star Wars actors have openly spoke out about online harassment in the past after appearing in the films. 

Last year, Kelly Marie Tran admitted she is ‘so much happier’ without social media, and doesn’t believe she will ever go back on it.

When she was cast in 2017’s The Last Jedi, trolls bombarded her with visceral racist abuse and social media harassment, and forced her to delete all social media.

‘I’ve truly been so much happier’: Star Wars’ Kelly Marie Tran said she’ll NEVER return to social media after racist trolls bullied her off it when she was cast in The Last Jedi

Moses Ingram, who plays Reva Sevanda – the Third Sister – in the new miniseries Obi-Wan Kenobi – also recently revealed the racist messages sent to her by Star Wars fans.

Ingram, who portrays Sith Inquisitor Reva Sevander on the Disney+ show, took to Instagram Stories to show off a series of bigoted messages she received on social media.

The Baltimore-born actress said of the vitriol: ‘There’s nothing anybody can do about this. There’s nothing anybody can do to stop this hate. I question my purpose in even being here in front of you saying that this is happening. I don’t really know.’

‘The thing that bothers me is this feeling inside of myself, that no one has told me, but this feeling that I have to shut up and take it, that I have to grin and bear it. And I’m not built like that,’ she said. 

Ingram added, ‘So, I wanted to come on and say thank you to the people who show up for me in the comments and the places that I’m not going to put myself. And to the rest of y’all, y’all weird.’

The Star Wars franchise issued a statement in support of Ingram after she publicly revealed the harassment she had experienced.

‘We are proud to welcome Moses Ingram to the Star Wars family and excited for Reva’s story to unfold,’ a tweet from the account read. ‘If anyone intends to make her feel in any way unwelcome, we have only one thing to say: we resist.’

Another said: ‘There are more than 20 million sentient species in the Star Wars galaxy, don’t choose to be a racist.’

Support: A series of tweets from the Star Wars social media pages showed support for the actress 

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