When the fantasy thriller “Lovecraft Country” premiered on HBO last summer, it quickly developed a cult following. The show’s genre-bending exploration of racism paired with supernatural elements started many conversations on social media. The magnetic series is based on Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel of the same name, where he draws inspiration from horror author H.P. Lovecraft and his fictional monsters. However, with Lovecraft having a lengthy history of integrating his racism against non-white immigrants and black people into his work, this adaptation confronts his disdain by making the protagonists black heroes.
Many viewers praised the show’s decision of doing so amongst other traits. Despite all the positive discussions surrounding the series, “Lovecraft Country” has a rap sheet of controversy. Recently, the series came under hot water after an extra, Kelli Amirah, detailed her experience with having her skin darkened for a brief appearance on the show.
Last month, Amirah posted on TikTok explaining that she was portraying a younger version of a particular character on the show through a photograph. While getting her makeup done, she recalled that the team of artists kept openly discussing how even though her facial features were a “dead match” to the actress she was playing, her skin was too light. As mentioned, with her role being in a simple photograph scene, she paid the comments no mind until she noticed they were darkening her skin.
“I was so uncomfortable,” Amirah said in her TikTok video. “I had no idea they were going to do this to me, and if I had known beforehand, I would not have accepted the job. Who thought this was a good idea?”
In the video, she put up side-by-side images of her regular skin tone and the darker tone she was given on set. The contrast was so outright that after she finished her role, she asked the makeup artists for wipes to clean her face before leaving. Though she posted about this situation in February, the incident recently picked up wind on Twitter, where many vocalized how frustrating and cartoonishly offensive the ordeal was.
With this show having a predominantly Black cast set in the 1950s, where systemic racism flourished through segregation and slavery, it’s disheartening to see how much colorism continues to demolish representation. Instead of taking the time to find a dark-skinned actress to accurately portray the character at hand, they transformed Amirah into a quick caricature.
Earlier this month, Amirah followed up the situation with a series of tweets, apologizing for her complacency and not speaking up. Amirah expressed that she would have felt more empowered to speak up if she was surrounded by extras instead of the main stars of the series.
On Sunday, March 7, HBO issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter sharing their disappointment and promising to do better.