British actor Idris Elba has said racism is very real and no longer describes himself as a “Black actor” since the term placed him in a “cage,” and an “obsession” with race can stifle goals and growth.
Although he is a prominent part of the Black community, the Golden Globe winner told Esquire UK in an interview that was published on Wednesday that such separatism in Hollywood can hinder entertainers.
The Luther star said: “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.”
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Elba is best known for his portrayals of drug lord Stringer Bell in the HBO series “The Wire,” as well as DCI John Luther in the BBC crime series “Luther.” His film credits include “Beast,” “Three Thousand Years of Longing,” “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” and “The Suicide Squad.”
For Elba “racism is very real,” but he believes that “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,” he said.
Elba stated in another section of the interview that he never pursued a career in entertainment to overcome obstacles faced by Black men.
“I did it because I thought that’s a great profession and I could do a good job at it,” he explained. “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.”
The Netflix film “Luther: The Fallen Sun,” the big-screen continuation of his adored crime series “Luther,” will feature Elba next on February 24, when it opens in theatres.