Actress Anna Diop, who plays Tamaran warrior Starfire in upcoming DC Comics-inspired live-action web series Titans, took to Instagram Thursday to defend herself from backlash after leaked set photos revealed her alien princess character.
The unpolished set photos show Diop and co-stars Teagen Croft (Raven) and Ryan Potter (Beast Boy) on set for the series, prompting mixed-to-negative response from fans, who criticized both the character costumes and the actors' appearances.
Some commentary was innocuous enough — like expressing disappointment in Starfire's translation to live-action in a less-than-faithful adaptation of her comic book and animated appearances, or comparing Titans to the oft-maligned Marvel's Inhumans — while other reactions likened Raven and Beast Boy to looking "like drug addicts," and Starfire to "looking like a 90s prostitute."
"Yesterday a photo of me on set leaked online," Diop wrote in the Instagram post addressed to Teen Titans fans, accompanied by a black-and-white glamour shot of the actress.
"And it was unfortunate because fans have been waiting MONTHS for a photo of 'Starfire' and a sloppy photo of me on a curb in 15 degree weather is what they got instead.
"For the sake of our incredible fans - I hated that this is the first picture people are seeing. It's out of context and it's a misrepresentation of the incredible character I get to play. And also a misrepresentation of the phenomenal production behind it all," Diop wrote.
"With that said," Diop continued, "the hate speech that followed was deplorable. And though I am highly unbothered, I do want to use this as an opportunity to say that tearing people down is not something that I tolerate. For myself or anyone else."
She explained: "Too often social media is abused by some who find refuge in the anonymity and detachment it provides: misused as a tool to harass, abuse, and spew hatred at others. This is weak, sad, and a direct reflection of the abuser."
"Racist, derogatory, and/or cruel comments have nothing to do with the person on the receiving end of that abuse. And because I know this - I'm unfazed," Diop wrote, adding a smiling face emoji.
"But for anyone out there who may not - I am here to remind you that whatever ugly and negative thing anyone ever choose to say about you is always a reflection and revelation of themselves - it does NOT define you, and it certainly does NOT make you any less perfect than you are," Diop wrote to her more than 11,000 followers, urging readers to "be you" and "stay beautiful."
The post has since received more than 5,000 "likes."
people’s issues with anna diop playing princess koriand’r are all because she is black. period. people WILL find excuses to belittle her and hate on her because they hate the idea of a black woman playing starfire even if it’s comic accurate. pic.twitter.com/epw8R6dC3b— ?????? (@strfires) April 11, 2018
You know I was about to REALLY complain about Starfire's look in Titans. But, I remember that it's an unofficial set pic and there's probably a reasoning behind that scene.
Also, I remembered Anna Diop posted a video of her doing motion-capture CGI awhile back. pic.twitter.com/bU9ViuTz8b— Gabriel Gonzalez (@GabeGeekzalez) April 11, 2018
I feel like this scene is Starfire (who is an alien after all) attempting to fit into society, only for everyone to look at her strangely. https://t.co/NtpnrbEegg— roby (@iamthatroby) April 11, 2018
DC so trash for making STARFIRE a crack head, Raven a feminist & Beast Boy a KPOP Stan pic.twitter.com/yY1lXoRiXJ— MikeHeadly (@MlKEHEADLY) April 12, 2018
starfire is a hooker, raven is a basement dweller and beast boy looks like a head of cabbage pic.twitter.com/KkzDR7j3ZP— ✨Felix Argyle✨ (@Crazed54678) April 12, 2018
My reaction to starfire costume pic.twitter.com/afAUzCONDC— Star (@Star_Powerup) April 11, 2018
The Starfire we deserve vs the starfire we got. pic.twitter.com/ZBcncuD2wa— The Mad Titan (@UncleTimi) April 11, 2018
I can already tell that the "designer" on this set didn't consult a Black cosmetologist. Diop's "Starfire" wig looks like it attended the same school as Medusa's wig from the Inhumans. I have gotten better pink wigs from cosplay sights on short notice.
WHAT IS GOING ON HERE ? https://t.co/O2avsnN6k2— Clarkisha Kent: Slayer of Colonizers (@IWriteAllDay_) April 11, 2018
starfire looks like she is about to get 30 seconds of airtime on law and order svu as a prostitute who gets murdered pic.twitter.com/JFzBll3coD— boo (@IDlOT_TEEN) April 13, 2018
They really got StarFire out here looking like a Blaxploitation hooker ?— Brandon B. (@DabblingB) April 11, 2018
They got Starfire out here looking like a 90s prostitute pic.twitter.com/3chhP4O2OA— steven (@stephennspencer) April 11, 2018
You've heard of starfire,— Paul ✨ (@LunaticPaul) April 11, 2018
Now meet dumpsterfire pic.twitter.com/b0v6zqQ6Mu
The series co-stars Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson/Robin, Minka Kelly as Dawn Granger/Dove, and Alan Ritchson as Hank Hall/Hawk. Titans will release digitally some time in 2018.