Fans of the James Bond catalog spanning 25 films will soon be bidding adieu to their leading man of 15 years, Daniel Craig, and at the same time be introduced to a new agent, Nomi, played by Black actress Lashana Lynch.
Two years ago, the British actress was cast in the franchise. According to multiple reports, including Harpers Bazaar, Lynch will be the first Black 007 agent. Lynch will make her agent debut in the film “No Time to Die” which is set to hit U.S. theaters in just under a month on October 8.
While Lynch will not be portraying the Bond character, who has always been a white male — dating back to his creation in the Ian Fleming novels the films took the character from — Lynch’s casting as an elite 007 agent struck a nerve with Bond fans.
“The response was generally positive, but there were some very personal messages to me, like Insta DMs and Twitter, and just conversations that my friends had heard or overheard on the [London subway] that were really mean,” Lynch told The Guardian in an interview published last week.
The film will also mark the first Bond film since 2015’s “Spectre.” Over the past six decades the franchise amassed a legion of fans dating back to the days legendary actor Sean Connery first portrayed the British intelligence M16 spy in “Dr. No.” But that long legacy may be in part to blame for the harsh reactions fans expressed. Though it should be noted Lynch portraying a 007 agent does not mean she is becoming a female Bond.
They were, “dark and reminiscent of an age I wasn’t even born in, where women and Black people weren’t allowed to move in certain spaces,” Lynch said of the reactions she got. Some of the race-based commentary shared on social platforms included tweets such a as “This is the end for me! James Bond is dead with black washing. Obviously I’ll boycott. RIP 007.”
And, “It won’t work unless she’s a player who hates commitment drinks on the job and is arrogant af 😂.”
For Lynch, who was a breakout star in the “Captain Marvel” film, the hate-filled reactions online serve as a reminder of the reality that Black actors have to go above and beyond in spaces predominantly occupied by white people.
“If you are a Black person in entertainment or a Black person in sport, and you ‘fail,’ you are reminded that you cannot do both,” she said. “You cannot be Black and entertain and fail. You have to be Black and entertain and win it for the country and win it for the world and win it for history.”
And above all else, Lynch is aware that her being only the fifth Black woman to appear in the film catalog — alongside Gloria Hendry, Grace Jones, Halle Berry and Naomie Harris — will help to further break the cycle of misrepresentation and underrepresentation of Black women.
“I’m hoping that my career and my choice in roles and me just being me, authentically, is shining a light on our power,” she told The Los Angeles Times. And as for those choosing to not support her 007 efforts, Lynch ultimately has no energy to give them.
“I don’t have anything to say to the trolls apart from it’s none of my business what you think, you have the freedom to live in your truth just like I have the freedom to live in mine.”
Besides, her supporters have shown nothing less than enthusiasm for casting in the next Bond installment.