“Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya has voiced his frustration with Samuel L. Jackson’s criticism of casting British actors in films about race in America.
Kaluuya, who was born in London to Ugandan parents, plays the African-American lead in Jordan Peele’s topical horror hit. In “Get Out,” Kaluuya’s character travels to his white girlfriend’s house to meet her parents. What follows is a subversive thriller tackling what it means to be black in America.
“I see black people as one man… I resent that I have to prove that I’m black,” Kaluuya told GQ when asked to address Jackson’s comments.
“I really respect African-American people,” Kaluuya added. “I just want to tell black stories.”
Kaluuya went on to explain that he too experiences racism as a black person living in England.
“This is the frustrating thing, bro — in order to prove that I can play this role, I have to open up about the trauma that I’ve experienced as a black person,” he said. “I have to show off my struggle so that people accept that I’m black. No matter that every single room I go to, I’m usually the darkest person there. You know what I’m saying? I kind of resent that mentality. I’m just an individual.”
“When I’m around black people, I’m made to feel ‘other’ because I’m dark-skinned,” Kaluuya added. “I’ve had to wrestle with that, with people going ‘You’re too black.’ Then I come to America, and they say, ‘You’re not black enough.’ I go to Uganda, I can’t speak the language. In India, I’m black. In the black community, I’m dark-skinned. In America, I’m British. Bro!”
Last week, while promoting “Kong: Skull Island” on New York radio station Hot 97, Jackson wondered “if [‘Get Out’] would have benefited from an African-American in the lead role.”
“There are a lot of black British actors that work in this country. All the time,” Jackson said. “I tend to wonder what would that movie have been with an American brother who really understands that in a way. Because Daniel grew up in a country where they’ve been interracial dating for a hundred years. Britain, there’s only about eight real white people left in Britain. … So what would a brother from America made of that role? I’m sure the director helped. Some things are universal, but everything ain’t.”
Jackson later walked back his comments to Vanity Fair. “What I said was not meant to be a negative slam against black British actors,” Jackson said at the Hollywood premiere of “Kong: Skull Island” last Wednesday. “Sometimes I get crazy when I’m doing interviews, but I was commenting on how Hollywood works in a weird way.”
In the interview with GQ, Kaluuya also praised Jackson for having “done a lot so that we can do what we can do.”