‘Start Turning Down Roles That Are Meant for a Dark Skin Actor’: Netflix Gets Called Out for Colorism After Zazie Beetz is Casted as Stagecoach Mary

Netflix recently unveiled its trailer for its upcoming western film “The Harder They Fall.” The movie is based on real historical outlaws and cowboys and features an all-Black cast, but one star’s inclusion has sparked outrage from fans eager to see the project. 

FX’s “Atlanta” actress Zazie Beetz is set to play Mary Fields, better known as Stagecoach Mary or Black Mary. The plus-size, dark-skinned, reportedly 6-foot female was the first Black woman to take on the dangerous role as a stagecoach mail carrier in the late 1800s, protecting the mail against thieves while driving across America. 

Netflix’s cast for ‘The Harder They Fall’ sparks outrage after Zazie Beetz lands role of dark-skinned Stagecoach Mary. Photo: Stagecoach Mary/Wikimedia /@zaziebeetz/Instagram

Critics slammed the streaming giant for opting for Beetz who is biracial, fair-skinned, and noticeably much slimmer than the real-life Stagecoach Mary in its casting. They also pointed out Netflix’s, but more specifically Hollywood’s, favoritism toward light-skinned talent.

“It’s one thing when it’s a fictional character but it is so much more disgusting when they do this bullsh-t with real people,” wrote one person on Twitter. 

Another person commented, “Love Zazie Beetz but yea this casting is more evidence that Hollywood is afraid to showcase talent, especially in female roles, that doesn’t have some Venn diagram overlap with European features.”


Other people began suggesting other actresses that they believed would execute the role brilliantly, both with talent and looks, including one Twitter user who wrote, “Stagecoach Mary could’ve been BODIED by Danielle Brooks.” That person added, “Nothing against Zazie Beetz because I love her but a lot of these actors/actresses need to start pulling a Zendaya and start turning down roles that are meant for a darkskin actor.”

“I think Leslie Jones woulda been the perfect choice for Stagecoach Mary. Zazie Beetz was a downright ridiculous choice. Nowhere near dark skinned, 6 feet tall, or 200 pounds,” wrote a fourth person.  

Several other series from Netflix have faced similar accusations, including the highly popular Shonda Rhimes’s “Bridgerton” and “Black AF” from director Kenya Barris whose entire cast, that was based on his family, consisted of light-skinned talent. Neither Beetz nor Netflix have yet to address the outrage over casting. 

“The Harder They Fall” stars Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, LaKeith Stanfield, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, RJ Cyler, Damielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi and Deon Cole. The movie debuts on Netflix on Oct. 6.   

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