Idris Elba Says He Doesn't Want To Be Referred To As A "Black Actor"

Idris Elba says that he doesn't like being referred to as a "Black actor."

BYCole Blake
Link Copied to Clipboard!
House Of Fraser British Academy Television Awards 2016 - Winners Room

Idris Elba says that he no longer refers to himself as a "Black actor." He explained why he doesn't like the description during an interview with Esquire magazine, published earlier this week. Elba says that being called a "Black actor" makes him feel like he's being put "in a box."

“I stopped describing myself as a Black actor when I realized it put me in a box. 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. We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to. Our skin is no more than that: It’s just skin.” From there, he added: “I’m not any more Black because I’m in a white area, or more Black because I’m in a Black area. I’m Black. And that skin stays with me no matter where I go, every day, through Black areas with white people in it, or white areas with Black people in it. I’m the same Black.”

Idris Elba's Explanation

Elba also said that he didn't choose to go into the entertainment industry for representation. He said he “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.”

Elba later addressed the backlash he has been receiving to the comments in a statement posted on Twitter. He wrote: "There isn't a soul on this earth that can question whether I consider myself a BLACK MAN or not. Being an 'actor' is a profession, like being an 'architect', they are not defined by race. However, If YOU define your work by your race, that is your Perogative. Ah lie?"

Idris Elba's next film, Netflix’s Luther: The Fallen Sun, hits theater later this month before being added to the streaming platform in March. Elba is best known for his role as Stringer Bell in The Wire, as well as his roles in BeastThree Thousand Years of LongingMandela: Long Walk to Freedom, The Suicide Squad, and more.


  • Link Copied to Clipboard!
About The Author
Cole Blake is currently an Editor at HotNewHipHop based out of Brooklyn, New York. He began working at the site as an intern back in 2018 while studying journalism at St. John’s University. In the time since, he’s graduated with a bachelor's degree and written extensively about a wide range of topics including pop culture, film & television, politics, video games, sports, and much more. He’s also covered music festivals such as Gov. Ball and Rolling Loud. You can find him publishing work for HNHH from Monday to Wednesday or on weekends. On the sports front, Cole’s a passionate NBA and NFL fan with his favorite teams being the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Lakers. He also roots for the Yankees whenever he finds himself at Yankee Stadium or the Red Storm when in the company of other SJU alumni. His favorite hip-hop artists are billy woods, Earl Sweatshirt, Cam’ron, MIKE, and Mach-Hommy.