Samuel L. Jackson caused something of a controversial storm last week, over comments he made about British actor Daniel Kaluuya becoming the breakout star of new horror movie ‘Get Out’.
“There are a lot of black British actors in these movies,” he told US radio station Hot 97.1, adding: “I tend to wonder what 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].”
Jackson also suggested US producers employ British actors because ‘they’re cheaper’.
And now, in an interview with GQ, Kaluuya, born in London to a Ugandan family, has taken issue with what Jackson had to say.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
He continued: “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!
“So people get an idea of what they might think the experience is… some things are universal, but everything ain’t.
“You’re getting singled out for the colour 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.”
Meanwhile, British actor David Harewood, who himself has taken on American roles, notably the CIA director in ‘Homeland’, reckons British actors might even be better suited to taking on American characters.
In an essay for The Guardian, he wrote: “I balk at the idea that we Britons are somehow a cheap alternative to the real thing. I’ve worked extremely hard in the US for the last few years now, and I can tell you I’m not exactly a budget option!
“The idea that American producers and directors are choosing black British talent to save themselves a buck or two is ridiculous – it’s because we’re damn good.
“Perhaps it’s precisely because we are not real American brothers that we black British performers have the ability to unshackle ourselves from the burden of racial realities – and simply play what’s on the page, not what’s in the history books.”
‘Get Out’ is out on March 17 across the UK.