Christmas 2015

Black actor to replace ‘blacked up’ politican in Christmas kings parade

Black actor to replace 'blacked up' politican in Christmas kings parade
The three kings (including a blacked up Balthazar) from the 2015 parade in Madrid. Photo: AFP
The Spanish capital will use actors instead of councillors in the festive parade in order to avoid the much-criticized practice of blacking up King Balthazar.

The starring trio of Madrid’s three kings parade, held on January 5th are usually city councillors, but this year the Spanish capital has decided to break with tradition – all in the name of diversity.

Owing to the fact that there are no black councillors in Madrid, in previous years the part of King Balthazar has involved blacking up – a practice which has become increasingly criticized throughout Spain.

King Balthazar will be played by a black actor from an African association based in Madrid, confirmed the director of Programs and Cultural Activities at Madrid City Hall, Jesús María Carrillo.

“As well as being more professional it will be more representative, we are not just using any old actor from an audition,” said Carrillo, on Monday. “It has to be someone who embodies the dignity of performance fit for a king.”

Carillo confirmed that the new style of parade brought in by the left-wing Ahora Madrid coalition was really all about reaching out to different and diverse communities within the city.

“We want to connect with the cultural diversity of the city while also bringing a sense of professionalism to the parade because it is a huge event, in which it is a huge responsibility to step into the shoes of one of the three kings,” said Carillo.

The actors will be paid around €1,000 for the parade which will take place in central Madrid on the evening of January 5th.

Madrid City Hall also confirmed that sweets will be handed out during the parade to children in the crowd but in a “more peaceful way”; during previous years' parades several members of the crowd had their glasses broken by flying candies. 

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