British actress Thandie Newton says she can’t find sufficient acting work in the U.K. because there are “slim pickings for people of color.”
“I love being here, but I can’t work, because I can’t do ‘Downton Abbey,’ can’t be in ‘Victoria,’ can’t be in ‘Call the Midwife’ — well, I could, but I don’t want to play someone who’s being racially abused,” she said in an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine. “I’m not interested in that, don’t want to do it … there just seems to be a desire for stuff about the royal family, stuff from the past, which is understandable, but it just makes it slim pickings for people of color.”
The “Westworld” actress added, “I’m talented at what I do, but I’ve had to struggle against racism and sexism. But I’m glad of it, in a way, that I survived and overcame.”
“Selma” actor David Oyelowo echoed the same sentiment recently, criticizing the lack of diversity in the U.K.
“People of color have been expunged from Britain’s history. One of the best ways to illustrate how integrated we are historically is to have a piece of entertainment that people can also learn from while they are watching it,” the actor said. “That is why I am hellbent on period drama: We need the context so we can build, and then go on to grow.”
“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, where the “Kong: Skull Island” actor had 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 had said on a radio show. “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.”
In response, Kaluuya said he just “wants to tell black stories.” He added that he too experienced 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.”
Jackson later backtracked on his comments, saying they were “not meant to be a negative slam against black British actors.”