Idris Elba gets candid about racism he experienced in Hollywood and his reasons behind a career in entertainment.
In an interview with Esquire magazinepublished online on Wednesday, the Luther: The Fallen Sun star said, “I stopped describing myself as a black actor when I realized it put me in a box.”
“As humans, we are obsessed with race. And that obsession can really hinder people’s aspirations, hinder people’s growth. Racism should of course be a topic of discussion. Racism is very real. But from my perspective, it’s only as powerful as you let it be,” explains Elba. “We have to grow. We have to. Our skin is just that: it’s just skin.”
The Beasts of no nation actor said he is often asked if he has experienced racism, which he has made clear, but that he “doesn’t go to my black friends and engage in conversation and ask them to tell me about racism.”
“I am no longer black because I am in a white area, or more black because I am in a black area. I am black,” he added. “And that skin stays with me wherever I go, every day, through black areas with white people in it, or white areas with black people in it. I am the same black.”
When speaking about why he chose a career in entertainment, the losers star explained that he “didn’t become an actor because I didn’t see black people doing it and I wanted to change that. I did it because I thought it was a great job and I could do it well.”
“As you climb the ladder, you’re asked what it’s like to be the first black person to do this or that,” Elba continued. “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 am the first Idris.”
In terms of Hollywood representation and his journey, he said he’s “aware that in many cases I’m the first one who looks like me to do something. And that’s good, to leave as part of my legacy. So that other people, black kids, but also white kids who grew up in the conditions I grew up in, can see that there was a boy from Canning Town who ended up doing what I do. It can be done.”