‘Mr. Malcolm’s List’ Cast on Breaking Ground on Period Romances and Friendships

Mr. Malcolm’s List is set to release today. The romantic period piece starring Frieda Pinto, Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, and Zawe Ashton tells the story of Mr. Malcolm, a distinguished and wealthy gentleman in society, who is searching for a wife, but has a list of requirements for his bride.

One of the many women spurned by Mr. Malcolm, Juliette (Ashton) calls upon her best friend, Selina (Pinto), to pretend to be the perfect woman — everything on Mr. Malcolm’s list — and then reject him. But, of course, like every romantic comedy, things don’t always go according to plan.

Based on the novel by Suzanne Allain and directed by Emma Holly Jones, Mr. Malcolm’s List has three leads of color vying for love. And, though stories like Netflix’s Bridgerton do center around people of color, there has always been a “safety net” of white leads as well.

“It’s interesting because I don’t think any of us spent time revealing how revolutionary it was,” said Dìrísù in an interview with The Nerds of Color. “It felt normal. As a human being, I spent a lot of time with falling in love and relationships with people of color. It’s just that. It’s inclusive. It’s just telling the stories of the rest of us. It was really normal for me. I can’t believe this is one of the first projects the two leads — the safety net — this should not be the way that life is. I’m glad we’re chipping away [at it].”

There has been an increase of period and historical films and television series that started to add some color into their cast. The stars of Mr. Malcolm’s List noticed, but also points out that there are still conversations that must be made.

“I think we’re right in the middle of a huge pendulum swing,” said Ashton. “There is suddenly the work that we see and being made and exist, but there is still a conversation that accompanies that work whereby you’re still being asked to justify your existence in the work. That needs to be faded out the more we become familiar with the new face of this genre.”

Check out the full conversation below:

Mr. Malcolm’s List opens in theaters on July 1.