Daniel Kaluuya has a few words for Samuel L. Jackson about being black. Last week Jackson questioned why Kaluuya, a British actor, was cast in Get Out, a movie that tackles race in the U.S., instead of an African-American actor, and said the role would have resonated more with an African-American actor.
“Here’s the thing about that critique, though. I’m dark-skinned, bro,” said Kaluuya in an interview with GQ. “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!”
Kaluuya also explained that black people in the United Kingdom also deal with racism and it’s a universal issue, and there are few stories out there that tell of their own experiences.
“You’re getting singled out for the color of your skin, but not the content of your spirit, and that’s everywhere,” the actor continued. “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.”
“I really respect African-American people. I just want to tell black stories,” Kaluuya said. “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. 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,” he continued. “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.”
Jackson later clarified his comments and said that he wasn’t blaming Kaluuya, but the Hollywood system that seemingly shuts out African-American actors in favor of their British counterparts.
“It was not a slam against them, but it was just a comment about how Hollywood works in an interesting sort of way sometimes,” Jackson told the Associated Press.
“We’re not afforded that same luxury, but that’s fine; we have plenty of opportunities to work,” he added.
“I enjoy their work,” Jackson said of the British actors. “I enjoy working with them when I have the opportunity to do that.”