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7 Oct

‘Rings of Power’ Actress Cynthia Addai Robinson Won’t Engage

‘Rings of Power’ Actress Cynthia Addai Robinson Won’t Engage



Cynthia Addai-Robinson is able to be your recent favorite fantasy queen. The London-born, Maryland-raised actress is now amongst Middle-Earth’s royal class in Prime Video’s highly anticipated Lord of the Rings spinoff series, The Rings of Power.

Joining a property with such an intense fandom is undoubtedly a bit intimidating for any actor, especially one portraying an all-new character like Addai-Robinson’s. But, as she tells ESSENCE, “My overwhelming feeling is excitement.”

Greater than the fan response, the thing that excites her most is what her family members will think once they see it. “What I’ve been enthusiastic about lots recently is that I even have nieces and nephews that know that their auntie is working on something, but they’re undecided what. They’re just on the age where they’ll really appreciate a story of this scope and this level of worldbuilding.”

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Cynthia Addai-Robinson attends the World Premiere of “The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power” at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on August 30, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)

Addai-Robinson portrays Miriel, Queen Regent of Númenor, the island kingdom that had long fallen by the events of the Lord of the Rings novels.

“She’s a thoughtful leader, someone that has a powerful moral compass, that wishes to keep up the peace and stability of Númenor. But she is navigating her people between two ideas,” she said of her character. With the dominion toeing the road between traditionalism and progress, Miriel senses early rumblings of discontent and internal conflict brewing among the many people, and as a budding queen, must work out lead accordingly.

Whereas Lord of the Rings had a wealthy and extensive source material, The Rings of Power, which takes place hundreds of years prior to the fellowship’s famed journey to Mordor, has only J.R.R. Tolkien’s notes and appendices to go on to craft the history of Middle-Earth within the Second Age, across the time the One Ring was forged. This left the writers and the forged with the duty of honoring the legacy of LOTR while constructing essentially a recent world in-universe from the bottom up.

“[Tolkien] being the kind of man who took great care and put plenty of detail into a few of these ideas and the constructing of worlds, we might all the time use that because the source,” Addai-Robinson explained. “What’s great about my character is that she’s thinly sketched, and I get a tremendous opportunity to fill within the gaps and enhance what’s there; attending to play a female character on this world on this context, with agency that gets to be fully realized, that has complexity and depth.”

‘Rings of Power’ Actress Cynthia Addai Robinson Won’t Engage In Negative Conversations Around Diversity In Fantasy Series

The lady characters on the show are portrayed with more strength and focus than they’ve been in every other Tolkien adaptation – a incontrovertible fact that excites Addai-Robinson probably the most. Fans will get a view of Middle-Earth’s women from a fresh perspective, deepening the roots of the story.

But as a girl, and more specifically a Black woman, Addai-Robinson’s addition to the lore didn’t exactly excite every fan who got an eyeful of early trailers and pictures of the series.

As is commonly the case with sci-fi and fantasy properties, a racist faction of the fandom became very vocal about The Rings of Power‘s diverse casting, shooting daggers at Prime Video, the production crew, and directly at Addai-Robinson and her fellow castmates of color, balking at “forced inclusion” in what has been a historically white property.

“Everyone has their very own way of how they navigate those online conversations. I’m not naive. I do know that those conversations occur. But for my very own sanity, there’s a specific amount of protection that you could have,” the actress explained. “There are things which can be said online about diversity in fantasy, in Tolkien specifically, and I just flat-out don’t agree. So, I wouldn’t engage in a conversation that essentially isn’t a conversation.”

‘Rings of Power’ Actress Cynthia Addai Robinson Won’t Engage In Negative Conversations Around Diversity In Fantasy Series

“That is the one way forward within the fantasy genre generally. You should see the world as you recognize it to be although it’s fantasy, and you ought to see the world as you aspire to see it,” she continued. “It could be jarring to see it every other way. I do know for a incontrovertible fact that this what audiences wish to see. Anything is noise, frankly, and I just don’t concentrate to it.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres on Prime Video streaming on September 2.

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