For many actors, television is fast becoming the place to be. As more and more Hollywood actors join the TV fraternity in America, actors in Britain it seems have it a lot tougher. After Riz Ahmed’s recent speech at Britain’s House of Commons about the importance of diversity and representation in the media, it is Thandie Newton, star of films like Mission Impossible 2 and Crash, who has spoken up about how racism keeps actors from being cast in roles.
Speaking to the Sunday Times Magazine, the London-born actress stated: ”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. 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 colour.”
Starring in an upcoming BBC series called Line of Duty, Newton reiterated her point and stated: “We make period dramas in Britain, but there are almost never black people in them, even though we’ve been on these shores for hundreds of years. It’s frustrating because it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Newton is not the only star to speak on issues of race. In what can only be described as vile commentary, Samuel L. Jackson spoke to a radio station recently and showcased a different kind of racial bigotry when he criticized black British actors for “taking roles in films concerning Americans race relations”.
Speaking about Get Out, a new comedy-horror led by Daniel Kaluuya, Jackson said on the subject: “There are a lot of black British actors in these movies. I tend to wonder what would that movie would have been with an American brother who really feels that.” Jackson did try to clean up his remarks by stating that he was being critical of the Hollywood system, but it did prompt Kaluuya to remark: “I resent that I have to prove that I’m black.”