Rumor has it that Beyoncé is spearheading a movie project based on the life of Saartjie Baartman, AKA “Hottentot Venus,” a South African woman whose curves made her famous on the European freak show circuit in the19th century — thanks to the racist, sexist norms of the time. According to UK tabloid The Sun, Beyoncé plans to write and star in the picture, and is currently putting together a team of writers and acting coaches to hone those skills.
Baartman, a member of the South African Khoikhoi tribe, served Dutch colonialists in her home country. Her employers facilitated her passage to Europe, where she titillated the masses who had heard stories of Khoikhoi women —”Hottenot” in Dutch— who were famous for their large buttocks. British abolitionists believed her business partners were holding her against her will, but failed to prove it in court. Her sad story has become an enduring object lesson about rampant racial and sexual exploitation by colonialists.
Beyonce’s hypothetical film would not be the first film to tackle the Baartman story. Most recently, Yahima Torres played Baartman in the 2010 independent film Black Venus.
While Beyoncé may be a queen of pop, she found the same success on screen in Austin Powers: Goldmember and Dreamgirls. Word on the street is that Beyoncé has her sights set on winning an Oscar and, more broadly, popular acclaim as an actress with this project.
But remember, this rumor is according to The Sun. We’re taking it with more than a grain of salt, but because of Beyoncé’s general ambition and her past success in film, this whole thing is entirely possible.