Idris Elba Explains Why He Doesn’t Call Himself a ‘Black Actor’
Idris Elba believes the world is ‘obsessed with race’ (Picture: Getty Images)
Idris Elba has further explained why he prefers not to identify as a ‘Black actor’ after his recent comments sparked a debate.
The 50-year-old screen star has become one of the UK’s most prominent acting talents, enjoying success in Hollywood with roles in TV shows such as The Wire and blockbuster movies including Thor, Avengers, The Jungle Book, Prometheus, The Suicide Squad, Sonic The Hedgehog and the Fast & Furious franchise.
On home soil, he’s well-loved for his role as the titular moody detective in BBC drama Luther, and will reprise his role for the show’s first movie spin-off, Luther: The Fallen Sun, released to Netflix next month.
In a recent interview, Idris explained that he no longer wants his career achievements to be defined by his race, and claimed society’s ‘obsession with race’ can ‘really hinder people’s aspiration’.
‘I stopped describing myself as a Black actor when I realised it put me in a box,’ he told Esquire UK.
He’s now doubled down on his earlier statement after fans began debating his comments on social media.
Idris is reprising his role as Luther in a new Netflix movie (Picture: Netflix)
His successful list of blockbuster movies include Three Thousand Years of Longing, released last year (Picture: AP)
In a tweet, Idris explained: ‘There isn’t a soul on this earth that can question whether I consider myself a BLACK MAN or not. Being an “actor” is a profession, like being an “architect” ,they are not defined by race.
‘However, If YOU define your work by your race, that is your Perogative. Ah lie?’
After his initial comments, fellow British actor John Boyega shared his thoughts on Idris’ statement after another Twitter user wrote: ‘He’s not wrong lmao. Many Black and POC actors have talked about being typecasted into stereotypical roles because of their race.’
The Star Wars actor then replied: ‘I think we should fixate on who is typecasting and putting actors in boxes because of this.
‘Not on making weird adjustments for them. We continuously focus on what we have to do so they don’t do this or that. Very worrying. We BLACK and that’s that.’
Last year, John, 30, praised colourblind casting after the success of Bridgerton, and told Metro.co.uk that he would love to take on non-stereotypical roles such as period dramas.
In his interview, Idris discussed the difference in attitudes towards race between the US and UK.
‘Of course, I’m a member of the Black community. You say a prominent one. But when I go to America, I’m a prominent member of the British community,’ he said.
‘“Oh, UK’s in the house!” If we spent half the time not talking about the differences but the similarities between us, the entire planet would have a shift in the way we deal with each other.’
Idris no longer refers to himself as a ‘Black actor’ (Picture: Getty Images)
However, John Boyega believes the onus is on others outside of the Black community to stop fixating on race (Picture: WireImage)
There has been a mixed response to Idris’ views, with one tweeting in support: ‘My Brother,I’m with you on that 100+%.’
Another weighed in: ‘I read the article and i think I get what @idriselba is trying to say. Actors should be labeled just actors. We don’t say things like I’m calling the black plumber or the black carpenter.
‘He’s saying he doesn’t just want to be known as just a Black actor because that is limiting. That is how Black actors are kept in a box. No one says I’m a famous White actor. We can see so why the label? He just wants to be Idris.’
However, another reasoned: ‘I agree. BUT, acting is one profession where race could matter. Because movie making is story telling and so much of our stories center around race. I can’t think of another career where race is pertinent to the job.’
Offering another perspective, one added: ‘When I request a Black doctor, that doesn’t limit that doctor, it lifts that Black professional up. And it improves my life and health.’
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