After Vanesu Samunyai was cast as Rose Walker in The Sandman, she had to face a negative reaction from fans that left her in a “dark hole.”
Samunyai discussed her experience in an interview with swirlywords. Asked about how the role of Rose had affected her life, she said, “Initially I was going to watch the show after the premiere, but I made the mistake of going online and reading everyone’s opinions of me. I clamped up and numbed out after that. I mentally blocked out the whole experience as if it never happened – to protect myself. I didn’t watch myself back.” She went on to explain, “As a ‘people pleaser’ seeing that disapproval made me feel like I’d done something wrong, and I felt so shameful. I was in a dark hole for months, just feeling like I’d failed, and feeling guilty for failing.”
Controversies Churning Over The Sandman’s Casting
The Sandman is based on an iconic dark fantasy comic series of the same name by Neil Gaiman. The race, physical appearance and/or gender of several characters was changed for the live-action TV adaptation, causing backlash from some readers of the comic although Gaiman himself approved of all casting choices. Samunyai’s character and her family were among those who don’t match the original art of The Sandman, although beyond superficial details, Rose’s arc and her characterization are very accurate to the source material. A young woman searching for her brother in foster care, Rose encounters the Lord of Dreams, Tom Sturridge’s Morpheus, and finds that her very existence as a Vortex is threatening his realm.
Samunyai said that the discouragement from social media caused her to withdraw. “I became really quiet online, I didn’t want anyone to see me living my life as if I’d done nothing wrong. All of the good comments couldn’t get through to me because I was inclined to trust the negative ones… I’ve been in a state of dissociation, to separate myself from the experience, like ‘that didn’t happen to me, that wasn’t me.'” However, since then she has seen some of the better side of the audience and recovering her self-esteem. “I’m getting to a place where I’m starting to like myself again… And negatives aside, I know I meant something to a few people. I can only be thankful for that. I’ve enjoyed the fan art and the fanfics and my 8,000 Instagram followers. If you’re a fan reading this, thank you so so much.”
Season 1 of The Sandman is streaming now on Netflix. Season 2 is in production and does not yet have a release window.
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