The absence of a sense of mixed-race history means that portraying mixed-race icons will often pose a problem for film makers. A film about 19th Century French author Alexandre Dumas has sparked a row after white actor, Gerard Depardieu was chosen to portray the mixed-race author.
Critics argue the French movie industry has deliberately undermined the 19th Century novelist's ethnicity and some go further to say a mixed-race actor should have been chosen to play the national hero.
Patrick Lozes, President of the Council of Black Associations of France, feels that Dumas' African heritage has been deliberately suppressed for the big screen. 'It's very shocking and it is insulting.
It is a way of saying that we don't have any black actor who has the talent to play Alexander Dumas, which of course is not true.'
Of course it would be preferable for a mixed-race actor to play the part of Dumas and in an ideal world where black and mixed-race actors had an abundance of roles available to them there would be room for a talented Depardieu to show us his interpretation of this national hero. However we all know it is not an ideal world and this would have been a good opportunity for an actor of colour to get his teeth into a decent part.
We still have such a long way to go when a white man darkens his skin and wears a curly wig to play a mixed-race man that society sees as black.