The Witcher boss reveals plan to “challenge” beauty standards with Yennefer casting

Josh Tyler
Yennifer from The Witcher

Anya Chalotra’s casting as Yennefer of Vengerberg in The Witcher was not only done for her acting chops, but also to challenge conventional beauty standards.

The Witcher has stood out among other high fantasy shows on television not only for its intense action and use of magic, but also for the exceptional acting of its cast.

While Henry Cavill’s Geralt is the headliner who steals the show, his supporting cast of Ciri (Freya Allan), Jaskier (Joey Batey), and Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) have all been exceptional in their own right as adaptations of these characters.

But Chalotra’s casting also served an important, secondary purpose according to the show’s casting director.

Yennifer from The Witcher

The Witcher casting director explains Yennefer casting choice

In the Witcher books, Yennefer of Vengerberg is described as “the most beautiful woman in the world.” So her casting presented an interesting opportunity to challenge traditional standards of beauty.

The show’s casting director, Sophia Holland, explained how they were able to make a commentary on those standards of beauty with Chalotra’s casting.

“I remember saying, ‘I feel like we need to challenge what people think of as the standard of beauty. And having a woman of color in this role does incredibly powerful things to the people watching.'”

Casting Chalotra, who is a British actress of Indian descent, allowed the show to challenge the “unconscious bias” of fantasy audiences, who would normally think of a beautiful woman as “predominantly white.”

In the books, games, and show, Yennefer is transformed into a beauty thanks to magic. She uses this newfound beauty as a weapon to ingratiate herself among the ruling class. She also grows close to Geralt, becoming his paramour thanks to not only her attractiveness but also her magical abilities.

Having someone who is able to use their looks to such effect be portrayed by a woman of color, especially given the genre, is among the many choices that makes The Witcher stand out among other fantasy series on television.

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