Fans were both excited and surprised by today’s casting announcement that Hispanic actors would be playing two fan favorites in the upcoming ‘Shadowhunters’ television adaptation.
It was revealed this afternoon that Alberto Rosende and Emeraude Toubia will be playing Simon Lewis and Isabelle Lightwood in ABC Family’s upcoming adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. However, unlike the characters they will be portraying, Rosende and Toubia are Hispanic, sparking controversy within the fan base.
Cassandra Clare responded to fan concerns indicating that she was pleased with the casting choices. “There are a lot of white people on our movie and television screens, and in our books. You can find white people everywhere,” said Clare on her blog. “They are overrepresented, not underrepresented.”
According to the author, producers approached her before casting Rosende and Toubia. She showed support from the beginning. While embracing the changes for Simon and Isabelle, Clare did clarify that characters Magnus, Maia, Raphael “must remain as characters of color.” She explained, “[I]t is very important that, for instance, Maia be cast with a black actress because the fact that she is black is a significant part of her character, affecting the way she sees the world and is reacted to by a racist society.”
Clare stressed that her and the producers’ main concerns were the acting capabilities of the new cast members. She described Toubia as both “fierce” and “fabulous” and Rosende as “adorable.”
The news comes in the midst of a large push for more diverse characters in YA books. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, for example, has brought the lack of diverse characters to the attention of many readers and authors across the globe. Clare and other authors like Veronica Roth have been vocal supporters of the cause
The show has been highly anticipated by TMI fans since its announcement. In 2013, the first book in Clare’s series, The City of Bones, was adapted as a film and was expected to kick off a mega-franchise. However, the movie flopped and plans to continue the film series were scrapped. Since then, ABC Family has acquired the rights to the series.
While many are upset over the change, Clare has expressed confidence in her fans to embrace the new depiction of these characters. “I told the network that my fandom would be supportive; that they were diverse and awesome,” she said. “I want you to live up to my description of you. Most of you already are. I believe the rest of you will.”
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