Poland – September 13, 2023
A popular Polish television talent competition called “Twoja Twarz Brzmi Znajomo” (Your Face Sounds Familiar) has sparked significant backlash due to its inclusion of celebrity participants who used blackface while impersonating Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé.
During the second episode of the show’s 19th season, singer Kuba Szmajkowski, a well-known figure in Poland boasting 163,000 Instagram followers, caused controversy by performing Kendrick Lamar’s song “Humble” in blackface. His performance included fake cornrows and a simulated beard, and notably, he used an offensive racial slur, which was not censored during the broadcast.
In another instance, actor Pola Gonciarz darkened her skin to portray Beyoncé and sang “If I Were a Boy.” Both contestants proudly shared videos of their transformations on social media.
The production of “Twoja Twarz Brzmi Znajomo” in Poland is overseen by Endemol Shine, a subsidiary of the French parent company Banijay. Banijay has strongly condemned the use of blackface and racial slurs on the show, pledging to conduct an internal investigation and take appropriate measures in response.
This controversial show is part of the “Your Face Sounds Familiar” franchise, which originated in Spain in 2011.
This isn’t the first time that “Twoja Twarz Brzmi Znajomo” has faced backlash for its use of blackface. In 2021, actor Tomasz Ciachorowski ignited controversy when he performed Kanye West’s “Stronger” while wearing blackface. At the time, the show issued a statement expressing surprise at the backlash and emphasizing their intention to recreate original performances precisely while honoring the original artist.
While “Twoja Twarz Brzmi Znajomo” has been unrepentant in the past about its use of blackface, the recent episode has caused outrage among fans of Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé, who have criticized both the contestants and the show for these racially insensitive depictions. Neither Szmajkowski nor Gonciarz has addressed the controversy publicly.
It’s important to highlight that in 2021, the Czech version of the show took a stand against contestants using blackface, indicating an increasing recognition of this problem in various international versions of the “Your Face Sounds Familiar” franchise.
For now, the Polish production company faces severe criticism as it grapples with the fallout from these highly controversial performances.