Despite much of the progress made over the last few years when it comes to Black actresses having the opportunity to be leading ladies in major films and TV series, certain Black actresses you speak to will tell you that it’s still a struggle out here. And while Thandie Newton may be the star of the HBO hit Westworld, and even picked up a best supporting actress Golden Globe nomination earlier this year for her work, she says the success she’s had here doesn’t really translate to a bevy of roles across the pond.
In a conversation with the Sunday Times Magazine, London-born Newton provided an explanation as to why so many British actors and actresses flock to the U.S. for work — they’re shut out at home due to the type of work being offered.
“I love being [in the U.K.], but I can’t work, because I can’t do Downton Abbey, can’t be in Victoria, can’t be in Call the Midwife,” she said of the popular British dramas. “Well, I could, but I don’t want to play someone who’s being racially abused.”
She continued, “I’m not interested in that, don’t want to do it. There just seems to be a desire for stuff about the royal family, stuff from the past, which is understandable, but it just makes it slim pickings for people of colour.”
Still, Newton is one of the most visible Black British actresses. She’s actually about to star in the fourth season of the BBC cop drama called Line of Duty (premiering March 26), and is working on the highly anticipated Star Wars Han Solo movie. She said it hasn’t been easy, but despite the bumps in the road, particularly ones surrounding her race and gender, she’s had success.
“I’m talented at what I do, but I’ve had to struggle against racism and sexism,” Newton said. “But I’m glad of it, in a way, that I survived and overcame.”
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