Idris Elba has told the Houses of Parliament that the lack of diversity in British television is forcing black actors to go to the United States.
Calling for a “Magna Carta” moment in British broadcasting, the Luther star made a speech to British politicians, in which he said that black actors have a harder time landing leading roles, compared to those on the other side of the pond, according to the Guardian.
The event, which was organised by Channel 4, featured over 100 MPs, including senior television executives and culture minister Ed Vaizey.
The 43-year-old Londoner openly talked about how he had to move to land a major role, saying if he had stayed in Britain he would have been trapped playing “best friends” and “cop sidekick parts”. “I never saw myself or my culture on TV so I stopped watching TV. Instead I decided to just go out and become TV. I had to transform the way the industry saw me. I had to climb out of the box. In other words, I didn’t go to America because I couldn’t get parts,” he said.
“I went to America because I was running out of parts. The USA has the most famous diversity policy of all – the American Dream. I want that British dream.”
His argument has been backed by fellow British actors Sir Lenny Henry, Sophie Okonedo and David Harewood, who have all argued for greater diversity in British television.
Elba’s speech directly follows the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominations in which only white actors have been nominated in both the leading and supporting categories.