Idris Elba Explains Black Actor’s Struggle in the UK
With all of the conversation surrounding the lack of support that Hollywood has for black actors and actresses, especially during award season (see: #OscarsSoWhite), it seems that it may be worse in the United Kingdom.
The Guardian got a copy of a speech that Elba will deliver to over 100 members of the United Kingdom parliament where he talks about the lack of opportunities for Black actors there, so he had to go to America in order to find commercial success.
“I knew I wasn’t going to land a lead role [in the U.K.],” Elba explains in his speech. “I knew there wasn’t enough imagination in the industry for me to be seen as a lead. In other words, if I wanted to star in a British drama like Luther, then I’d have to go to a country like America. And the other thing was, because I never saw myself on TV, I stopped watching TV. Instead I decided to just go out and become TV.”
Elba, then, comments on the lack of diversity in the top tier talent of people who make movies, including the executives who give their approval for projects.
“People in the TV world often aren’t the same as people in the real world. And there’s an even bigger gap between people who make TV, and people who watch TV. I should know, I live in the TV world. And although there’s a lot of reality TV, TV hasn’t caught up with reality,” Elba will say, adding: “Change is coming, but it’s taking its sweet time.”
This problem, which was originally a US-based commentary argument, seems to travel across seas. The lack of diversity that presents itself to award shows and movies is indicative of a larger issue: one that undermines the importance of Black talent.
Black talent should be able to transcend all channels and networks, not having to restrict itself to black-owned channels like BET, Centric, and TVOne. Historically, that brings us back to a time where black networks were the only way that black actors and actresses would be placed in any type of limelight.
This problem is not reflective of the real world and its talents, which Elba also addressed in his speech.
“When you don’t reflect the real world, too much talent gets trashed. Thrown on the scrapheap. Talent is everywhere, opportunity isn’t. And talent can’t reach opportunity.”
(Photo Credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)