A Malaysian TV drama has come under fire for using blackface to portray one of its characters, but the producer of the show insisted the decision would “glorify” dark skin.
In an interview with Malay Mail, Fadzil, also known as Haji Zeel, defended the use of blackface for the show “Dayang Senandung” by saying it would not be offensive to Black people.
“As producers, we only wanted to make a story based on a mythological tale,” he said. “Our drama is not insulting towards people with black skin. In fact, we glorify them in our story.”
someone??pls tell me?? whats going on??? pic.twitter.com/mdUDFHHaMG
— elle (@elrynnaa) June 18, 2020
Many social media users expressed outrage when Malaysian actress Wani Kayrie appeared on TikTok donning the blackface for her character. However, Fadzil said the production will continue and further stated that her character will become “beautiful again.”
“So far (we have no plans to reshoot) because this is the story and character that was greenlit when we pitched the show earlier this year,” he said. “The character of Dayang will change to become beautiful again at the end of the story.”
“Dayang Senandung” follows the story of a princess “cursed” with black skin at birth by a commoner who was wrongly sentenced to death. Based on a legend, the princess faces abuse and persecution while growing up.
A movie of the same title was also released in the 1960s featuring actress Sarimah Ahmad donning the same dark skin to portray the role.
While some users defended the production for its decision to use blackface by claiming the series is rooted in local heritage, others slammed the show for using the makeup.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that Dayang Senandung is problematic. Just because it’s old and a legend or a folklore doesn’t mean it’s right,” one Twitter user said.
A Change.org petition was also set up asking to stop the production of the series. It has garnered over 24,000 signatures of its 25,000 goal as of this writing.
The actress and singer deleted the controversial video from her TikTok account following the backlash and apologized, World of Buzz reported. She also asked users to stop sharing the video or they would be “spreading slander.” It also appears the actress has put her TikTok profile on private.
Feature Image Screenshot via Change.org