Bassett’s lawyers instruct Tourism Board to cease and desist from using actress’ name and image in promotional materials

Another embarrassing situation has developed for the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda.  Yesterday, May 10, attorneys for world-renowned actress Angela Bassett issued cease-and-desist instructions to the Tourism Board regarding its use of the actress’ name and image in connection with this country’s marketing or promotional efforts.

It was only last Wednesday, May 3, that the Cabinet Notes reported announced the Executive’s decision to appoint Bassett a tourism ambassador responsible for promoting Antigua and Barbuda. The appointment and title were also conferred on actress Dawnn Lewis.

The movie star was recently on island to participate in Antigua Sailing Week and its entertainment events.

While Bassett enjoyed her visit to the island, including meeting with the local dignitaries and members of the Tourism Board, her lawyers – Fox Rothschild LLP – say she was not aware that the photos taken during her visit would be used for commercial purposes and without the customary prior approvals.   

Therefore, the Tourism Board has been instructed to stop immediately the publication of the actress’ name and image until the parties have entered into a standard release agreement that authorizes such use.

Although reportedly honoured by the designation, Bassett has not been briefed on the duties, responsibilities, time frame and approvals of the position, her lawyers say.

Accordingly, a further request is made for the Tourism Board to stop using the actress’ name, image, and biographical information in association with the designation of “Tourism Ambassador.”  

The Board is not authorized to use these materials until the parties have reached a mutual agreement that reflects Bassett’s acceptance of the position and outlines her obligations and protections in that regard.

In addition, the law firm has requested that the Board acknowledge receiving its letter by the  close of business on May 15, and confirm that all uses of Bassett’s name and image have been removed by the Tourism Board or its licensees.

Persons in the tourism sector and regular residents tell REAL News they are “shocked,” “embarrassed” and “really, really disgusted” by this turn of events, which, they say, depicts Antigua and Barbuda as “a real cartoon country.”

Meanwhile, in what some persons are describing as “his usual fashion,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne is throwing the Tourism authorities under the bus, saying they acted prematurely.  

Although the Cabinet Notes claimed that both Bassett and Lewis would not be paid for their services as tourism ambassadors, Browne now acknowledges that there were “tax implications” to consider, as well as the possible “labeling as a politically exposed person (PEP).”

Some residents say they do not accept that the publication of the information was not sanctioned by Browne, himself, who, at this time, is “desperate for some positive publicity.”

Under the Spencer Administration, two actresses enjoyed the designation of Antigua and Barbuda’s “tourism ambassadors.”  They were Anna-Maria Horsford and Marianne Jean-Baptiste, both of whom have family ties to this country, and their appointments were tied into the Homecoming/Independence celebrations.

In 2009, Bassett was a guest of Jean-Baptiste at the ceremony that saw Boggy Peak renamed Mount Obama.  

Incidentally, in 2016, the Browne Administration revoked this act of the Spencer Administration and the name reverted to Boggy Peak.