Why Idris Elba Stopped Calling Himself A ‘Black Actor’
In a candid interview with Esquire UK, the "Beast" actor opened up about race and equality in Hollywood, revealing that he no longer refers to himself as a "Black actor."
"I stopped describing myself as a Black actor when I realized it put me in a box," Elba, 50, told the publication. "We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to. Our skin is no more than that: it’s just skin."
“Of course, I’m a member of the Black community,” the actor explained. “You say a prominent one. But when I go to America, I’m a prominent member of the British community."
"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," he continued. “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."
While reflecting on why he wanted to become an actor, Elba emphasized that it wasn't because he “didn’t see Black people doing it and wanted to change that," but rather because of his love for the art of filmmaking.
“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 is currently promoting his upcoming film, "Luther: The Fallen Sun", where he reprises his role as the iconic detective, which he portrayed for five seasons in the crime series "Luther".
"Luther: The Fallen Sun", a continuation of the series that made Elba a star, drops March 10 on Netflix.