Downton Abbey is set to add a black character to its cast, signaling a move toward an expansion in diversity on the hit British drama.
With the early years of the twentieth century as a backdrop, Downton Abbey chronicles the lives of a wealthy family and its household staff. Originally airing on the BBC network, the show gained adoration from US viewers through its three season run on PBS.
Slate writes that Downton Abbey has been the target of mild criticism for its lack of racial diversity. The scenes primarily take place in the confines of the estate and surrounding village, which may explain the limited character ethnicity.
Creator Julian Fellowes has reportedly expressed interest in diversifying the show in a way that is “historically believable.”
According to The Sun, media and casting reports have indicated that the show is now looking to cast an African-American actor in a significant role.
Downton Abbey’s first black character, Jack Ross, is reportedly described in casting notes as follows:
“Male, 25-30. A musician (singer) at an exclusive club in the 20s. He’s black and very handsome. A real man (not a boy) with charm and charisma.”
Downton Abbey’s third season found the character of Rose, played by actress Lily James, frequenting jazz clubs in London. Speculation suggests that Jack Ross may be part of that storyline.
According to The Huffington Post, James recently spoke about her character’s development as Downton Abbey moves forward:
“It’s nice to bring the outside world into Downton. The London world is quite exciting — it gives it a social context. Downton’s in a bubble with their morals and the world they uphold, so it’s nice to see the more rebellious London world [as well].”
What do you think of Downton Abbey adding a black character to its cast?