Meet New ‘American Gods’ Star Ricky Whittle: 5 Things to Know

British actor is best known for series-regular role on The CW’s “The 100”

After more than one year in development, Starz’s “American Gods” is one major step closer to reality with the casting of up and coming actor Ricky Whittle in the lead role of Shadow Moon.

Whittle will be most familiar to fans of The CW’s “The 100,” where he’s a series regular, but here are five others things to know about the man who will be taking on one of Neil Gaiman‘s most iconic characters.

1. He already has a dedicated fan base thanks to “The 100”
Whittle joined the cast of The CW’s post-apocalyptic drama as a recurring guest star in Season 1, and was quickly promoted to series regular in Season 2. Now in the middle of Season 3, Whittle’s Lincoln is a fan-favorite. No word yet on how this new casting will affect his status with “The 100.”

2. He’s a man of many talents
Growing up in England, Whittle was into sports when he was younger, was discovered as a model in college, and studied criminology in school, and then dropped out to pursue acting. That’s turned out to be the best decision he could have made. He was quickly cast on British TV shows like “Hollyoaks” and “Dream Team.” Whittle also showed off his dancing skills in the 2009 season of reality competition series “Strictly Come Dancing,” where he came in second place. While on “The 100,” Whittle was also recurring on ABC’s “Mistresses.”

3. He is big on social media
Whittle is active across multiple platforms, interacting with fans on Twitter, Instagram and the live-streaming platform Periscope. “I am truly humbled & honored to be Shadow Moon in @AmericanGodsSTZ,” he tweeted Thursday after the announcement. “Thank u @neilhimself @BryanFuller @andmichaelgreen @FMNATV #AmericanGods.” And he teased the big news the night before, promising a Periscope session to come: “Woke up this morning to a world of beauty!! Life is pretty awesome right now #karma #lovelife #Periscopestocome”

4. He is outspoken about diversity in casting
Whittle has admitted he was bullied for being one of the only black kids in his school as a child, and discussed being typecast by American casting directors, asserting there’s more diversity in the UK. “I actually spoke to one of the heads of a studio and he said I confuse middle America,” he said. “Basically, when they see a black person, they see athlete, they see rapper or they see criminal or something like that. And then when they hear a British accent they hear posh, so they hear lawyer or doctor… So when they see me and hear me, it’s confusing, so you kind of have to fall into a typecast.”

5. He fits the Shadow Moon of the books
Shadow was always going to be played by a non-white actor, despite fans’ concerns in the months leading up to the announcement. “They are casting #AmericanGods by the book. No whitewash allowed,” Gaiman answered a fan thanking him for not casting a white actor for the role of Shadow. In the book, Shadow is at various points described as having “coffee and cream skin,” black hair and grey eyes. Gaiman has said Shadow’s race could not easily be determined and used Vin Diesel as an example.

“American Gods” begins filming in April, with an eye to debut on Starz in 2017. “The 100” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.

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