Dakota Fanning Responds to Whitewashing Allegations Over Sweetness in the Belly Role

See what the actress had to say about the claims in a message to her fans

By Jess Cohen Sep 05, 2019 5:18 PMTags
Dakota Fanning, 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Red Carpet FashionsMatt Baron/REX/Shutterstock

Dakota Fanning is speaking out amid backlash over her new film, Sweetness in the Belly.

The movie, which is based on Camilla Gibb's novel, sparked controversy earlier this week when a preview for the film was released. "First Clip Of Dakota Fanning As A White Ethiopian Muslim In Refugee Drama-Romance," Deadline tweeted Wednesday, along with a still from the movie. In response, many social media users questioned Fanning's casting in the film.

Amid the whitewashing allegations, Fanning took to social media to share more details about her character.

"Just to clarify. In the new film I'm part of, Sweetness in the Belly, I do not play an Ethiopian woman," the 25-year-old actress wrote in a message on her Instagram Story. "I play a British woman abandoned by her parents at seven years old in Africa and raised Muslim."

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"My character, Lilly, journeys to Ethiopia and is caught up in the breakout of civil war," Fanning continued. "She is subsequently sent 'home' to England, a place she is from but has never known."


"Based on a book by Camilla Gibb, this film was partly made in Ethiopia, is directed by an Ethiopian man and features many Ethiopian women," Fanning went on to share. "It was a great privilege to be part of telling this story."

Fanning added that the film is about "what home means to people who find themselves displaced and the families and communities that they choose and that choose them."

Sweetness in the Belly is set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.