Idris Elba is clapping back at critics who claim he denied his Blackness when he denounced the label, “Black actor.” The British actor explained to Esquire UK that referring to yourself as a Black actor can limit role opportunities and growth in Hollywood.
Elba shared, “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 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, We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to. Our skin is no more than that: It’s just skin. As you get up the ladder, you get asked what it’s like to be the first Black 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’m the first Idris.”
During a new interview with The Guardian, Elba added that he purposely lives a “sheltered life” because social media often chooses to contort the words of celebrities.
“It’s really difficult to have an opinion if you’re in the public eye because it gets overly scrutinized, taken out of context, and thrown into some sort of bullshit, zeitgeisty social media argument.”
The 50-year-old described social media as a “conflict incubator” and noted that his anti-Black actor label is his choice, and he’s sticking to it because it’s his prerogative.
“Me saying I don’t like to call myself a Black actor is my prerogative. That’s me, not you. So for you to turn around and say to me, I’m ‘denying my Blackness’. On what grounds? Did you hear that? Where am I denying it? And what for? It’s just stupid. Whatever,” he told The Guardian.
“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 Prerogative [sic]. Ah, lie?”