Daniel Kaluuya is on a pretty good run. In addition to starring in the critical and commercial hit film Get Out--which just crossed the $100 million mark at the box office–he’ll also be mixing it up in the world of Wakanda in Ryan Coogler’s forthcoming Black Panther. While it’s an amazing time for the British-born thespian, a bit of the moment was spoiled when Samuel L. Jackson raised concerns about Black British actors playing roles that deal with racially-charged situations in America.
“There are a lot of Black British actors in these movies,” Jackson said during an interview on New York’s Hot 97. “I tend to wonder what that movie [Get Out] would have been with an American brother who really feels that.”
Jackson continued: “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? Some things are universal, but [not everything].”
Some British actors, including Star Wars star John Boyega, took issue with Jackson’s comments. Boyega called the debate “stupid” and a waste of time.
Black brits vs African American. A stupid ass conflict we don't have time for.
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) March 8, 2017
In a new interview with GQ, Kaluuya explained that while Black Brits and Black Americans live in two separate countries, many of our experiences–especially when it comes to racism and police brutality–are similar.
Check out his full answer via GQ below:
Big up Samuel L. Jackson, because here’s a guy who has broken down doors. He has done a lot so that we can do what we can do.
Here’s the thing about that critique, though. I’m dark-skinned, bro. 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!
[Black people in the UK], the people who are the reason I’m even about to have a career, had to live in a time where they went looking for housing and signs would say, “NO IRISH. NO DOGS. NO BLACKS.” That’s reality. Police would round up all these Black people, get them in the back of a van, and wrap them in blankets so their bruises wouldn’t show when they beat them. That’s the history that London has gone through. The Brixton riots, the Tottenham riots, the 2011 riots, because Black people were being killed by police. That’s what’s happening in London. But it’s not in the mainstream media. Those stories aren’t out there like that. So people get an idea of what they might think the experience is.
Let me say, I’m not trying to culture-vulture the thing. I empathize. That script spoke to me. I’ve been to Ugandan weddings, and funerals, and seen that cousin bring a white girl. That’s a thing in all communities. 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. 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. You probably feel that as a writer, too. 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’s concerns and Kaluuya’s response is a reminder that the African Diaspora is more connected than we often realize. While we do have different experience based on what part of the world we’re in, we also share a host of commonalities and should do a better job of discussing them.
Read Daniel Kaluuya’s entire interview with GQ, here.