Idris Elba Talks Racism In Hollywood, Says Being Described As A ‘Black Actor’ Put Him ‘In A Box!’, Posted March 7th 2023

The actor, promoting his new film, ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun,’ available on Netflix.

In a recent Esquire profile, Idris Elba got real about a wide range of topics, including his experience in Hollywood, speaking to the racism in the industry and how he believes describing himself as a “Black actor” put him in a box.

Elba, currently promoting his new film “Luther: The Fallen Sun,” said in the profile, “As humans, we are obsessed with race. And that obsession can really hinder people’s aspirations, hinder people’s growth. Racism should be a topic for discussion, sure. Racism is very real. But from my perspective, it’s only as powerful as you allow it to be.”

Later in the piece, he added, “I’m not any more Black because I’m in a white area, or more Black because I’m in a Black area. I’m Black. And that skin stays with me no matter where I go, every day, through Black areas with white people in it, or white areas with Black people in it. I’m the same Black.”

He also addressed what did not draw him to acting. “I didn’t become an actor because I didn’t see Black people doing it and I wanted to change that. I did it because I thought that’s a great profession and I could do a good job at it,” he explained. “As you get up the ladder, you get asked what it’s like to be the first Black to do this or that. Well, it’s the same as it would be if I were white. It’s the first time for me. I don’t want to be the first Black. I’m the first Idris.”

This attitude also contributed to how he identifies in Hollywood. “I stopped describing myself as a Black actor when I realized it put me in a box. We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to. Our skin is no more than that: it’s just skin.”

Last year, theGrio caught up with Elba ahead of his film, “Beast,” in which he starred as a widowed father who must protect his daughters from a dangerous threat: a blood thirsty lion. Speaking Cortney Wills, he broke down his approach to the role as a Black man.

“As Black men, we’re always playing the machismo,” he explained. “I have to be bad and dope and rowdy, right? But in this situation when your two daughters’ lives are at stake, how bad can you be? You just got to do what you got to do to save their lives.”

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