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Actor Idris Elba Rejects Label as ‘Black Actor

February 15, 2023 | By Kali Girl

Idris Elba, recently spoke Esquire UK about the complexities of navigating race and equality within the entertainment industry. In the in-depth interview, Elba shared his perspective on the challenges facing Black creatives and the need for increased representation 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.”

“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.”

Elba revealed that his decision to pursue acting was not based on a desire to shatter the industry’s lack of diversity.

“I did it because I thought that’s a great profession and I could do a good job at it,” he said. “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.”

Elba isn’t the only one concerned about the casual use of “Black” as a prefix. In January, Nia Long spoke out about how labeling films as “Black movies” might be limiting opportunities for Black creatives.

During an interview with Buzzfeed, Long highlighted the potential consequences of pigeonholing Black actors and filmmakers into a narrow category. She argued that such labeling could perpetuate stereotypes and prevent Black creatives from exploring a wider range of themes and genres.

Some had an issue with Elba’s comments where he took to Twitter to address the backlash writing, “There isn’t a soul on this earth that can question whether I consider myself a BLACK MAN or not. Being an ‘actor’ is a profession, like being an ‘architect,’ they are not defined by race. However, If YOU define your work by your race, that is your Perogative.

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