Actors unite to decry ‘deplorable’ racist abuse of Romeo and Juliet star Francesca Amewudah-Rivers

Romeo and Juliet stars Tom Holland and Francesca Amewudah-Rivers.

Actors have condemned the ongoing racist abuse of 26-year-old Francesca Amewudah-Rivers, who is soon to star alongside Tom Holland in a London production of Romeo and Juliet, in an open letter.  

The Jamie Lloyd Company’s Romeo and Juliet play is described as a “pulsating new vision of Shakespeare’s immortal tale of wordsmiths, rhymers, lovers and fighters”.

Spider-Man star Tom Holland will appear in the show as Romeo at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London from 11 May. He will be joined by Amewudah-Rivers – who has previously starred in William Shakespeare plays Macbeth, Othello and Antigone by Sophocle in London theatres – and who will take on the role of Juliet.

The fact that Amewudah-Rivers has been cast as Juliet has seen her targeted with horrendous racist and misogynistic abuse online, including vile comments about her appearance. In response, more than 800 female and non-binary actors have signed an open letter to condemn the ongoing barrage of racism and negativity. 

Has Tom Holland spoken out about Francesca Amewudah-Rivers?

In the open letter, organised by Enola Holmes actor Susan Wokoma and the writer Somalia Nonyé Seaton, more than 800 predominately Black female and non-binary actors have condemned the racist abuse surrounding Amewudah-Rivers’ casting.

At the time of writing, Francesca Amewudah-Rivers’s co-star Tom Holland is yet to speak out.

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The letter reads: “The racist and misogynistic abuse directed at such a sweet soul has been too much to bear.” 

Stars including British playwright Lorna French, actress, Bob Marley: One Love actress Umi Myers, actress Afi Okaidja and Star Wars’ Sasha Frost have signed the letter. 

The letter added: “Too many times Black performers – particularly Black actresses – are left to face the storm of online abuse after committing the crime of getting a job on their own.” 

“We want to send a clear message to Francesca and all Black women performers who face this kind of abuse – WE see you.” 

The Jamie Lloyd theatre company has released a statement condemning the racist abuse, and adding that “this must stop”. The statement said further abuse will “not be tolerated and will be reported”. 

Many of Amewudah-Rivers many supporters also took to X (formerly Twitter) to share their support for the performer, as well as their shock at the backlash she has faced.

One person tweeted: “What Francesca Amewudah-Rivers has experienced is anti-Black terrorism. That is what it is. Plain and simple. It is important for Black & biracial creatives to stand their ground in the face of this culture of white supremacism that is seeking to erase us.”

Many others also sprang to Amewudah-Rivers’ defence, calling the comments “wicked and hateful”.

Tom Holland Romeo and Juliet 2024 cast

As well as Tom Holland, who has also starred in blockbusters including Uncharted and Onward, and (of course) Francesca Amewudah-Rivers, the play‘s diverse cast will also see Doctor Who alum Freema Agyeman play the Nurse, Michael Balogun play the Friar, Joshua Alexander-Williams play Mercutio, Daniel Quinn-Toye play Paris, and Nima Tahlegani play Tybalt.

Tom Holland Romeo and Juliet 2024 tickets

Romeo and Juliet is running at the Duke of York’s Theatre from 11 May until 3 August and you can get tickets from ATG Tickets.