A Polish music talent show is facing a backlash for featuring contestants in blackface impersonating Kendrick Lamar and Beyonce.
Singer Kuba Szmajkowski was crowned the winner of the second episode of Twoja Twarz Brzmi Znajomo – the Polish version of the global franchise Your Face Sounds Familiar – on Saturday after performing Lamar‘s track Humble.
The singer wore blackface make-up and also had cornrows, and shared photos of him getting ready to 163,000 followers on Instagram. During his performance, he reportedly also used the N-word.
Performing Beyonce‘s If I Were A Boy, fellow contestant Pola Gonciarz also darkened her skin to perform.
Many social media users have criticised the show and the contestants – calling the use of blackface racist, disgusting and offensive.
“Google ‘blackface’ and learn from your mistake. It’s 2023,” one Instagram user commented on one of Szmajkowski’s posts.
Sky News has chosen not to use images from the show featuring contestants in blackface.
Neither the contestants nor the show, which also featured impersonations of stars including Ed Sheeran and Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, have commented publicly on the criticism yet.
But following a similar backlash over a contestant performing in blackface in 2021, producers issued a statement saying the programme “tries to show great performances, which strive to be as close to the original as possible” and highlighted other tributes to artists including Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder.
It continued: “The intention of each star performing on the show, as well as of the whole production team, is to recreate the original performance in the most precise manner, while honouring the original artist.”
Sky News has contacted representatives for both contestants, as well as Endemol Shine Poland, which produces the series, for comment.