"Beyonce is in no way tied to this project," her rep told Billboard in a statement (Jan. 5). "This is an important story that should be told, however."
Baartman -- shown off in exhibits under the name Hottentot Venus -- was made a spectacle across Europe, particularly England and Paris for her voluptuous shape. She died in 1815 at the age of 26 -- five years after her arrival in Europe -- but did not receive a proper burial in her native South Africa until 2002.
Jack Devnarain, chairman of the South African Guild of Actors, echoed Beyonce's sentiment, telling Billboard over e-mail that Baartman's story deserves recognition.
"The story of Saartjie Baartman is a tale of torture and humiliation of a woman, womanhood in general and an entire culture indigenous to Southern Africa. As an episode in South African history, it describes the crippling damage of racism, sexism and exploitation," he said. "Baartman was paraded as a freak and brutally robbed of her humanity. Her story needs to be told."