Daniel Kaluuya: ‘Color of My Skin’ Kept Me From Getting Roles in UK

LOS ANGELES - MAR 3: Daniel Kaluuya at the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards at the Beach on March 3, 2018 in Santa Monica, CA — Photo by Jean_Nelson

Daniel Kaluuya has landed high-profile roles in a string of U.S. films, including Queen & Slim (2019), Black Panther (2018), and Get Out (2017). But the British actor says he didn’t come to the U.S. looking for work out of choice, he came here out of necessity.

“I was going for a lot of stuff [in England],” he told Britain’s The Sunday Times. “But I wasn’t getting roles because of the color of my skin. It wasn’t fair. It was a trap.”

Kaluuya, who was born in London, added that racism makes it much more difficult for black actors to find success in England.

“I went up for this show. It was 10 rounds of auditions. There was me and a white guy for the lead,” he explained. “It was about aliens. And I realized as I was going to one audition that the other guy had been given an acting coach. They didn’t love me like they loved him.”

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He said it wasn’t the first time something like that happened.

“It happened a few times, and I went, ‘Nah. I’m not an idiot,’” he added.

Kaluuya’s comments came after the nominations were announced for the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) on Jan. 6. While Scarlett Johansson and Margot Robbie picked up two nominations each, no performers of color were nominated in the four acting categories. The nominations prompted public outcry and questions as why the actors in Parasite, Pain And Glory, The Farewell, Hustlers, Harriet, Us, Just Mercy and Clemency were all ignored.

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Following the nominations, the BAFTAs generated more negative headlines when they asked British actress Cynthia Erivo, who starred in the U.S. film Harriet, to perform at the ceremony. Erivo told Extra she declined because she didn’t want to be used as a “party trick.”

“It felt like it was calling on me as an entertainer, as opposed to a person who was a part of the world of film, and I think that it’s important to make it known that it’s not something that you just throw in as a party trick, you know?” Erivo told Extra at the premiere of her new HBO limited series The Outsider. “I work hard and every single person of color who is working in these films this year has worked really hard, and there are many of them who deserve to be celebrated.”

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