Last week, Samuel L. Jackson launched a surprising attack on black British actors, claiming they are taking roles away from African-Americans and don’t have the same experience of blackness.
“There are a lot of black British actors in these movies,” he told a radio station when asked about buzzing new movie Get Out. “I tend to wonder what would that movie would have been with an American brother who really feels that.
“Daniel grew up in a country where they’ve been interracial dating for a hundred years… What would a brother from America have made of that role? I’m sure the director helped, but some things are universal, but [not everything].”
Now the man Jackson was referring to, Daniel Kaluuya, has responded in an interview with GQ, saying: “Here’s the thing about that critique, though. I’m dark-skinned, bro.”
He continued of his own experiences: “When I’m around black people, I’m made to feel ‘other’ because I’m dark-skinned. I’ve had to wrestle with that, with people going, ‘You’re too black.’ Then I come to America, and they say, ‘You’re not black enough.’ I go to Uganda, I can’t speak the language. In India, I’m black. In the black community, I’m dark-skinned. In America, I’m British. Bro!”
He also noted that stories of what it’s like to be black in Britain are not often told, “so people get an idea of what they might think the experience is…some things are universal, but everything ain’t.”
Kaluuya continued: “You’re getting singled out for the color of your skin, but not the content of your spirit, and that’s everywhere. That’s my whole life, being seen as ‘other.’ Not fitting in in Uganda, not Britain, not America. They just highlight whatever feature they want.”
“I really respect African-American people. I just want to tell black stories. This is the frustrating thing, bro — in order to prove that I can play this role, I have to open up about the trauma that I’ve experienced as a black person. I have to show off my struggle so that people accept that I’m black. No matter that every single room I go to I’m usually the darkest person there. You know what I’m saying? I kind of resent that mentality. I’m just an individual. Just because you’re black, you taken and used to represent something. It mirrors what happens in the film. I resent that I have to prove that I’m black. I don’t know what that is. I’m still processing it.”
Jackson clarified his comments over the weekend, telling AP: “It was not a slam against them [black British actors], but it was just a comment about how Hollywood works in an interesting sort of way sometimes
After complimenting his British peers, he continued: “We’re not afforded that same luxury, but that’s fine, we have plenty of opportunities to work. I enjoy their work. I enjoy working with them when I have the opportunity to do that.”
The film veteran’s initial comments angered numerous British actors including Star Wars: The Force Awakens actor John Boyega, who responded on Twitter saying: “Black brits vs African American. A stupid ass conflict we don’t have time for.”