Idris Elba Reveals Why He Rejects 'Black Actor' Label

Idris Elba Reveals Why He Rejects ‘Black Actor’ Label: ‘It Put Me In A Box’


Idris Elba further explained his stance on social media, noting that he simply believes that professions “are not defined by race.”

However, he clarified that he certainly considers himself a Black man and noted that it is other people’s prerogative to “define [their] work by [their] race.”

In other words, he said what he said, but he doesn’t think it should be a big deal.


During a recent interview with Esquire, Idris Elba candidly addressed why he doesn’t describe himself as a “Black actor” anymore.

Idris Elba Says The World Is ‘Obsessed’ With Race

The Thor: Ragnarok star started off by noting that people “are obsessed with race.” As a result, he feels as though people’s “aspirations” and “growth” can be negatively impacted by this “obsession.”

He also said that, in his eyes, racism is “only as powerful as you allow it to be.”

“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.”

The Actor Doesn’t Center His Work Around His Race: ‘It’s Just Skin’

While on the subject, Idris pointed out, “If we spent half the time not talking about the differences but the similarities between us, the entire planet would have a shift in the way we deal with each other.”

In the spirit of not highlighting the differences that exist between people, Idris decided to stop referring to himself as a “Black actor,” as it “puts [him] in a box.” After all, “our skin is no more than…just skin,” as he says.

“I stopped describing myself as a Black actor when I realised 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.”

Idris Elba proceeded to also share that he didn’t become an actor to break down barriers. Instead, he merely thought he “could do a good job at it.”

As a result, he doesn’t feed into the hype surrounding him being “the first Black to do this or that.” He explains his rationale by noting, “I don’t want to be the first Black. I’m the first Idris.”

“I didn’t become an actor because I didn’t see Black people doing it and I wanted to change that. I did it because I thought that’s a great profession and I could do a good job at it. As you get up the ladder, you get asked what it’s like to be the first Black to do this or that. Well, it’s the same as it would be if I were white. It’s the first time for me. I don’t want to be the first Black. I’m the first Idris.”

In other words, Idris is killin’ the acting game for the sake of being a great star—not for any recognition that centers on him being a Black trailblazer.

Twitter Responds To Idris: ‘What A Thing To Say During BHM’

Understandably, this sentiment was a bit polarizing on Twitter, and you can check out some reactions down below.

What do you think about Idris Elba’s commentary?


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