Idris Elba responded to criticism on Friday following an interview with Esquire UK in which he stated that he no longer refers to himself as a “black actor” because it hinders his career.
According to a new interview with The Guardian, the “Cats” actor stated that it is “really hard” for celebrities to have an opinion. Explaining that his words were “overly scrutinised, taken out of context, and thrust into some type of ridiculous, zeitgeist-driven social media debate.”
“I have the right to decline to identify as a black actor if I so choose. That’s me, not you, Elba, 50, stated. “Therefore, for you to spin around and accuse me of denying my blackness is absurd.” On what basis? What did you hear? Where am I denying it? And for what? It’s just foolish. Whatever.”
The “Luther” actor stated in an interview with Esquire, “As humans, we are preoccupied with race. And this preoccupation can seriously hinder people’s ambitions and development.”
“Racism should certainly be a topic of discussion. Racism is a reality. But from my perspective, it is only as potent as you make it,” the actor continued. “I ceased referring to myself as an African actor when I discovered it stereotyped me. We need to develop. We must do so. Our skin consists of nothing more than epidermis. Rage over.”
The remarks prompted several individuals to criticise Elba.
“He is still ebony, however. He can claim he is not a “black actor,” but his skin tone will not change simply because he says so. He can still be typecast like every other black actor,” one person tweeted.
“He’s not mistaken haha. “Many black and people of colour actors have spoken out about being typecast into stereotypical roles due to their ethnicity,” another tweet read.
The “Star Wars” actor John Boyega came to Elba’s defence.
I believe this is reason enough to investigate who is stereotyping performers. Not on making strange modifications for them,” Boyega tweeted. “We continually fixate on what we must do to prevent them from doing this or that. Very concerning. We are BLACK, end of story.”
Elba also took to Twitter to clarify himself further.