You can almost already foresee the Oscar that Idris Elba will someday bring home as the British actor continues to gain notoriety in Hollywood and increasingly stellar roles. Though he;’ enjoying a very successful career run, Idris isn’t oblivious to the barriers of being a black man trying to make it as a thespian, the thing is he just has no interest in talking about it all day.
In an interview with Vulture.com, Idris was asked why he thinks he’s had a slow rise to fame, to which he answered the fact that he’s British and there are already more than enough leading men to go around. But when the reporter asked if whether he thought being black had anything to do with it, he quickly shut him down and said “next question.”
“I’m so bored of answering that,” he added. “Are there differences between black actors’ opportunities and white actors’ opportunities? Yes, there are. It’s been said. I’d rather a young black actor read about success as opposed to how tough it was. I get these roles because I can act and that’s it. Hopefully that’s it. The less I talk about being black, the better.”
Good point. It seems Idris had enough of the “woe is me talk” from a very early age, opting to actually do something about it instead. During the interview he talked about his childhood and the extremist right-wing party, The National Front, saying “Their beliefs are ‘Keep Britain White” and added:
“Walking down the street, someone would call you a black c*nt. I was like, ‘F*** that.’ ”
According to the article, it was around this time that Idris decided to shorten his given name, Idrissa, which means “firstborn son,” because he got tired of beating people up when they told him it sounded too feminine.
“I quickly got well known because I was tall and wasn’t taking any s***.”
He forgot to mention fine, although like the subject of how hard it is for black actors in Hollywood, he’s not too keen on spending a lot of time talking about his looks either. When Vulture asked if he’s ever worried about damaging that face we’ve come to love when he takes on action roles like Prometheus and Thor, he said:
“If I made my living off my face alone, I don’t think I’d be here talking to you now. I don’t have much to lose. Besides, there are characters out there that have crooked noses. I think I’ll get those characters.”
I’m pretty sure he will too, although he insists he’s still relatively unknown in the industry.
“My publicist says a lot of the time people don’t get it. They’re like, ‘Ee-dris Elba?’ And she’s like, ‘The guy from The Wire.’ I don’t see myself as famous. I’m more, ‘What’s his name again?’ And I love that.”
What do you think about Idris’s comments? Is he right that the less he talks about being black, the better off he is?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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