Idris Elba responds to criticism over why he doesn’t call himself a “Black Actor”: “It’s my prerogative”

"I stopped describing myself as a Black actor when I realised it put me in a box"

Idris Elba has further addressed his thoughts on race and why he doesn’t call himself a “Black Actor”, telling critics it’s his “prerogative”.

The actor had originally discussed racism and his thoughts on it within the scope of his career and life last month. Elba said while “racism is very real,” he said that he believed people gave it too much power and allowed it to hinder their growth and aspirations.

“If we spent half the time not talking about the differences but the similarities between us, the entire planet would have a shift in the way we deal with each other,” Elba told Esquire. “As humans, we are obsessed with race.”


Idris Elba in HBO’s ‘The Wire’. CREDIT: Alamy

The Suicide Squad star continued: “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. I stopped describing myself as a Black actor when I realised it put me in a box.”

He added: “We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to. Our skin is no more than that: it’s just skin. Rant over.”

Elba, who first rose to prominence thanks to his turn in HBO’s The Wire, elaborated by explaining his experience in the USA, saying: “Of course, I’m a member of the Black community. You say a prominent one. But when I go to America, I’m a prominent member of the British community.”

Finishing his thoughts on the topic, the Luther star 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.”

The actor’s words on the matter provoked much debate on social media withStar Wars star John Boyega writing: “I think we should fixate on who is typecasting and putting actors in boxes because of this. Not on making weird adjustments for them.


“We continuously focus on what we have to do so they don’t do this or that. Very worrying. We BLACK and that’s that,” he added.

But now Elba has added to his original thoughts on the matter of race in a new interview with The Guardian. He said that the fall-out from the first interview shows how social media can be a “conflict incubator”.

“Me saying I don’t like to call myself a Black actor is my prerogative. That’s me, not you,” he explained. “So for you to turn around and say to me that I’m ‘denying my Blackness’. On what grounds? Did you hear that? Where am I denying it? And what for? It’s just stupid. Whatever.”

Idris Elba’s Luther: The Fallen Sun is currently in cinemas ahead of a Netflix release later this week.

In a four-star review, NME wrote that Elba delivers a “gripping and emotional performance” while “The Fallen Sun takes viewers on a tense, twisted game of cat, mouse and dog.”

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