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Reflections of Idris Elba on the Criticism of His “Black Actor” Remarks

Idris Elba recently reflected on the backlash he received from fans in response to his comments on being a “Black actor” during an interview with Esquire in February. Now, speaking with The Guardian for a new piece, he says that his statements were taken out of context.

Elba recalled the Esquire interview, explaining that the outrage was caused because his quote was “overly scrutinized, taken out of context,” and “thrown into some sort of bullshit, zeitgeisty social media argument.” He added: “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.”

Idris Elba On The Red Carpet

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 01: Idris Elba arrives at the global premiere of “Luther: The Fallen Sun” at BFI IMAX Waterloo on March 01, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)

As for what exactly Elba said during his conversation with Esquire, he remarked: “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.” He continued: “I stopped describing myself as a Black actor when I realized it put me in a box. We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to. Our skin is no more than that: It’s just skin. Rant over.”

The remarks caused quite an uproar on social media with users taking both sides. One prominent voice to react to Elba was fellow actor John Boyega. “I think we should fixate on who is typecasting and putting actors in boxes because of this. Not on making weird adjustments for them,” Boyega wrote on Twitter. “We continuously focus on what we have to do so they don’t do this or that. Very worrying. We BLACK and that’s that.” In the immediate afterward, Elba also released a clarification of his statement on the platform.

Elba’s Initial Statement


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