Saniyya Sidney, the young, breakout actress starring as Amy Bellafonte on Fox’s newest sci-fi thriller The Passage, is only 12-years-old and is already “the most important girl in the world,” according to the trailer for the upcoming series.
The Passage is based on the bestselling trilogy of novels by Justin Cronin — The Passage, The Twelve and The City of Mirrors — and debuts this Monday, January 14 at 9/8c. Ahead of the big premiere, Fox dropped a new trailer of the sci-fi thriller, which you can check out below:
For all you vampire lovers out there, The Passage is offering a new perspective on Vampirism, the power behind the vampiric disease and the end of humanity. The show centers around group of scientists in a secret medical facility who have been experimenting with a new virus that could potentially lead to a cure for all the world’s disease or wipe out all humans — i.e. scientists are attempting to harness the immunity of rabid vampires to cure human diseases.
Sidney plays a young foster child named Amy Bellafonte who is chosen as a test subject for the virus. A former FBI agent and war hero Brad Wolgast is sent to fetch and deliver her to the facility, and the two form a close bond during their travels, with Wolgast becoming somewhat of an adopted father to the girl.
For a 12-year-old actress, Sidney already has an impressive acting resume. She has starred in the Oscar-nominated films “Fences” and “Hidden Figures,” and also appeared in an indie film that made its premiere at SXSW called “Fast Color.” Sidney has also appeared on the small screen playing the role of young Kizzy in Roots and starring in the hit FX series American Horror Story: Roanoke, although The Passage is her first major television role.
Sidney told The Young Folks that she feels honored to have the experience of playing Amy Bellafonte on the show, saying: “It has been a great blessing. I love playing Amy Bellafonte with every ounce of my heart. The writers and directors have created an adventurous and amazing story. The cast are amazing actors. Every moment has been a joy.”
Although the young actress hasn’t read author Justin Cronin’s novels yet, she told TYF that her father has read the entire series and was thrilled that she got the role of Amy. She has worked very closely with Cronin while filming the show so that she could nail her character down.
“I had the privilege to get to know the incredible Mr. Cronin,” she told TYF. “He gave me so much personal insight to the books and characters. The writers have done a stellar job bringing the books to life.”
Although the young actress has had plenty of positive feedback on her performance and role as Amy Bellafonte, she has also received some negative backlash from anonymous, angry internet warriors. As Sidney is described as a 6-year-old, blonde, white girl in the books, fans of the novels have been complaining about the producers casting a black actress for the role.
- “It can’t be Amy…”
- “Wasn’t she a blond (in the books)?”
- “I really am not a racist, but I am a little confused.”
- “This girl is clearly not the description of Amy in the books….I wonder how much more the suits will butcher the story?”
- “Looks like they are going to do every thing they can to make a trash show.”
Cronin jumped to her defense, writing on Facebook: “As for Saniyya, she is quite possibly the most charismatic young woman I’ve ever met, and a phenomenal actress. Her audition just blew everybody’s doors off.”
This isn’t the first time book fanatics have gotten angry over a casting choice. In 2012, when “The Hunger Games” was adapted for the big screen, Amandla Stenberg and Lenny Kravitz were cast as Rue and Cinna, causing Twitter to explode with protests that two black actors were cast as characters that fans had imagined as white, or had been described as such in the books. The same thing happened again last year, when the stage production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” cast Noma Dumezweni as the adult-version of Hermione Granger, prompting author J.K. Rowling to speak out in defense of the casting decision.
Sidney isn’t letting any anonymous critics dampen her spirit however, and the young actress is nothing but excited for the premiere of The Passage. She described her character to Black Girl Nerds as an “orphan from nowhere,” who is destined to save the world, and has been promoting the show on her Twitter feed for weeks.
Tune in Tuesday, January 14 at 9/8c to catch the premiere of Fox’s newest sci-fi series.
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