Did we need another reason to love Idris Elba? No. But he gave us one anyway. Elba, who recently starred in Beasts of No Nation and his hit series Luther called on broadcasters to better reflect modern Britain. He believes black actors are often ‘petty stereotypes’ and women are forced to play ‘the love interest’.
Speaking at the House of Commons, Elba said: ‘The Britain I come from is the most successful, diverse, multicultural country on earth. But here’s my point: you wouldn’t know it if you turned on the TV.’
He added: ‘Are black people often playing petty criminals? Are women always playing the love interest or talking about men? Are gay people always stereotyped? Are disabled people hardly ever seen?’
Elba, who got his big break on The Wire, said he left the UK after being offered too many ‘one dimensional’ roles.
‘I don’t think of myself as just a “black actor”. I’m an actor, not a number. And that’s what used to drive me mad as an up and coming actor. My agent and I, we’d get scripts and we were always asked to read the ‘black male’ character. Or ‘the athletic type’. But when a script called for a ‘black male’, it wasn’t describing a character. It was a describing a skin color,’ he said.
‘I knew I wasn’t going to land a lead role. I knew there wasn’t enough imagination in the industry for me to be seen as a lead. In other words, if I wanted to star in a British drama like Luther, then I’d have to go to a country like America.’