Amazon defends diverse casting in 'Lord of the Rings' prequel series
Actress Sophia Nomvete (pictured August 2022) plays a dwarf princess in the Amazon series 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'

Streaming giant Amazon has defended the racially diverse casting of its big budget series "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," which some fans say distorts the world of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Since the first two episodes of the series aired, social media has been awash with protests that the decision to cast Black and Latino actors in some roles was forcing diversity onto the original source material.

Among such characters is fan favorite dwarf princess Disa, played by Black actress Sophia Nomvete.

But other fans saw the diversity as a welcome development in the fantasy universe.

Amazon also defended the choice in a post on the show's official Twitter account.

"JRR Tolkien created a world which, by definition, is multi-cultural. A world in which free peoples from different races and cultures join together, in fellowship, to defeat the forces of evil. Rings of Power reflects that," the actors said in a joint statement, also released on the show's Twitter.

"Our fantasy has never been all white. Middle-earth is not all white," the statement said, referring to the medieval-inspired universe in which Tolkien's story takes place, populated by humans, hobbits, dwarves and elves among others.

This is not the first time a popular fantasy series has had to defend its diverse casting choices. In June, Star Wars lead Ewan McGregor struck out at people targeting fellow "Obi-Wan Kenobi" actor Moses Ingram, who is Black, with racist abuse online.

© Agence France-Presse