Five years ago, Twitter was in an uproar as Samuel L. Jackson tweeted about Jordan Peele’s decision to cast Daniel Kaluuya in his hit film, Get Out. The critically-acclaimed actor seemingly argued that the role could or should have been played by a Black American actor.
“I tend to wonder what that movie would have been with an American brother who really feels that,” he wrote.
While the debate is far from new, Jackson’s tweet breathed life into a debate about nationality, entertainment and the diaspora. During a recent episode of Uninterrupted’s The Shop, the conversation came up yet again. A clip obtained by The Root finds Maverick Carter discussing the matter with The Wire star Idris Elba. Utilizing Naomi Ackie’s casting as Whitney Houston in I Wanna Dance With Somebody as the starting point, Carter asked Elba how he feels about the debate.
“You know what I noticed? You said Black women in America versus an English woman…Like being English makes you less Black? To me, that defines how unintelligent the argument is. No disrespect to anyone who has that feeling, it is what it is,” Idris Elba replied.
“The fact is: we’re all Black. You get a Scottish actor playing an Irish character or an English actor — you don’t hear about a debate. But amongst ourselves we want to point fingers because we come from the conditioning that makes people just make sure ‘where you from?’ and ‘are you authentic from where you’re from? How Black are you?’ And it comes down to the caste system and it’s annoying to me, really annoying.”
Idris Elba went on to add that his family has deep roots in the United States despite the fact he grew up in the U.K.
“My grandfather fought the second World War for this country, the U.S. [He] comes from Kansas City,” he continued.
“I come to this country and someone says to me ‘you ain’t American’ and I’m like, ‘huh?’ How dare you. It’s acting. Cultural appropriation, no. That’s definitely something we should pay attention to. But in the acting profession, one should be allowed to play.”
Elba is set to appear alongside Carter, Drew Barrymore, Paul Rivera and Kyrie Irving on the latest episode of The Shop on September 2, 2022 at 12 p.m. EST.