Idris Elba Stopped Calling Himself a ‘Black Actor’ After ‘It Put Me in a Box’: ‘I Don’t Want to Be the First Black. I’m the First Idris’02/09/2023
Idris Elba is tired of being put in a box. The actor, who is returning as his iconic detective Luther in Netflix’s upcoming movie “Luther: The Fallen Son,” recently told Esquire UK that he has stopped calling himself “a Black actor” after it became a constrictive label on his career.
“Of course, I’m a member of the Black community,” Elba said. “You say a prominent one. But when I go to America, I’m a prominent member of the British community. ‘Oh, U.K.’s in the house!’ 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.”
“As humans, we are obsessed with race,” Elba 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 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. Rant over.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Elba recalled how he decided to become an actor because he “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 added. “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.”
Netflix is launching Elba’s big Luther return on March 10. The film is a continuation of the BBC series that made Elba an international star. The original “Luther” series ran for five seasons between 2010 and 2019. Elba notched four Emmy nominations, plus two Golden Globe wins, a Screen Actors Guild award and a Critics’ Choice award for the series.
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