Actor Idris Elba spoke out about racism in an interview with Esquire magazine. In addition to promoting Luther: The Fallen Sun, his latest project with Netflix, he also discussed his career and what being an African-American actor means to him:
I’m always curious why this is fascinating to people. It’s a question I get asked a lot. I don’t go to my Black friends, in conversation, and ask them to tell me about racism. Have I ever faced racism? Yeah.
However, the color of his skin is not something he is concerned about. It is something that defines him. The actor famous for his roles in Star Trek: Beyond, Beast, Pacific Rim, and Thor told Esquire magazine:
I’m not any more Black because I’m in a white area, or more Black because I’m in a Black area. I’m Black. And that skin stays with me no matter where I go, every day, through Black areas with white people in it, or white areas with Black people in it. I’m the same Black.
Idris Elba's legacy
In Idris Elba's opinion, the general population is more concerned about the color of a person's skin than how they act, behave, or where they come from. This is something that not only surprises him but also worries him:
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. 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.
In addition, the international star said that he did not become an actor due to the fact that there weren't any black actors during his childhood. He simply thought it was the right profession for him and one in which he could excel:
I accept that it is part of my journey to be aware that, in many cases, I might be the first to look like me to do a certain thing. And that’s good, to leave as part of my legacy. So that other people, Black kids, but also white kids growing up in the circumstances I grew up in, are able to see there was a kid who came from Canning Town who ended up doing what I do. It can be done. I 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 that’s a great profession and I could do a good job at it. 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.
Rain of criticism
Once the interview was published, it didn't take long for people on social media to criticize the actor because they thought it was "stupid" that he did not consider himself a "black actor." Elba responded to his critics in a message he posted to Twitter:
There isn't a soul on this earth that can question whether I consider myself a BLACK MAN or not. Being an 'actor' is a profession, like being an 'architect' ,they are not defined by race. However, If YOU define your work by your race, that is your Perogative. Ah lie?
— Idris Elba (@idriselba) February 11, 2023