Just following Bridgerton introducing South Asian representation to the regency romance with Season 2’s Sharma sisters, Freida Pinto leads Mr. Malcolm’s List, another new book-to-movie adaptation showcasing diversity in a genre that has long been greatly fronted by white characters. The Indian-born actress, alongside her co-star, British Nigerian actor, Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, shared how they embraced bringing diversity to the period romance in an authentic way.
When CinemaBlend spoke to Freida Pinto about her role in Mr. Malcolm’s List, the actress spoke to pushing back against making Selena Dalton a “gimmicky” character just for the sake of representation. In her words:
Pinto chose to express her and Selena’s Indian background in a couple ways, adding another great South Asian character to recent media. For one, she worked with Mr. Malcolm’s List costume designer to implement certain elements of the wardrobe that would directly nod to her culture. Additionally, she decided to call her father in the movie “Papa,” which is specifically how children commonly call fathers India. She was heavily inspired by Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, who plays the titular Mr. Malcolm. Dìrísù shared this about how he embraced diversity in the film in a personal way:
While these are subtle adds to Mr. Malcolm’s List, it allowed both leads to feel their characters belonged in the regency setting in an organic rather than simply being color-blind casting choices. When CinemaBlend spoke to the movie’s director Emma Holly Jones about the topic of bringing diversity in this particular genre, she said this:
You can watch the cast and director’s full comments on the topic in the video above. As Jones said, there’s been a handful of movies and television shows in the last few years that have casted non-white actors in period pieces in an effort for more inclusion to exist within Hollywood. Another great point the filmmaker shared is how people of color did exist in the Regency period in England. But in the past it has been erased and the genre has centered on white characters exclusively.
Mr. Malcolm’s List starts with soon-to-be Marvel star Zawe Ashton as Julia Thistlewaite, who is left feeling humiliated when Dìrísù’s Mr. Malcolm decides to reject her after a single one of their dates led him to realize she did not meet the requirements of a secret list he uses to determine who he will marry. Once Julia finds out about the list, she recruits Pinto’s Selena to meet all the standards for a wife to later break his heart and reveal she has a list of her own. But as Malcolm and Selena get to know each other, they start to make a real connection.
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Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.