Black Actors in the Industry

Black Actors in the Industry

Sofu Alebahcew, Guest Reporter

“What is it like to be a black actor?” A question that has undoubtedly crossed the minds of the many directors and actors I have worked with throughout my journey. It’s a peculiar question when you say it aloud to yourself, but the idea is common because people are desensitized to it. I get singled out not because of the essence of my spirit but the color of my skin. That’s been my journey in the art form so far, being categorized into “other.”

Being the only person of color in the room, I feel a sense of isolation. Even when I am cast, it still can feel like tokenism—a symbolic gesture of diversification. That is one of the most troublesome things about the D-word in this industry. Many companies and industries I have worked with tend to hide behind the word “diversity” because it is easy. They lack direction and will to be explicit about what diversity means to them.  My participation in a production is just a box for them to check off, a transaction in which the time they give me to perform equates to the esteem that people have for their organization.

It’s taken a toll on my morale, being seen as someone incapable of portraying a character’s story because of skin color.

Get Out’s, and Black Panther’s Daniel Kaluuya has expressed his discomfort with being defined as an actor through race. The 32-year-old  reveals that he wished that his acting career wasn’t driven by race or racial issues but rather his passion for the art form.

“I’m not going to ignore that I’m surrounded by [racial issues], but I’m not defined by it. I’m just Daniel, who happens to be black.” – Daniel Kaluuya

Kaluuya illustrates the idea that Black actors are often confined to a racial narrative. We start to lose sight of the true beauty of film works when we focus so heavily on the racial aspect.

Actors John Boyega, John David Washington, and Idris Elba have all conceded to these claims by Kaluuya. They all feel that race is nothing but a catalyst and that the essence of a story is what makes a film great. That’s what gravitated Kaluuya to pursue the film Queen & Slim. It was more so the love story element of the movie, and not simply the display of discrimination.