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Idris Elba explains why he no longer describes himself as a 'Black Actor'

The star says that being an actor is a profession like being an architect and that labels can put people in boxes

Idris Elba explains why he no longer describes himself as a 'Black Actor'
MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 13: Idris Elba arrives at the Gucci show during Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2023/24 on January 13, 2023 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Pietro S. D'Aprano/Getty Images for Gucci)

Idris Elba has recently addressed the ongoing discussion surrounding a statement he made about no longer describing himself as a "Black actor." Elba expressed his thoughts on the matter in a tweet, saying, “there isn't a soul on this earth that can question whether I consider myself a BLACK MAN or not.” Elba further explained that being an actor is a profession, not defined by race, but that if an individual chooses to define their work by their race, it is their prerogative.

The statement was made in the wake of a feature in the spring 2023 issue of Esquire UK, in which the actor addressed racism he’s experienced in his career. Elba said, "I stopped describing myself as a 'Black actor' when I realized it put me in a box.” Elba discussed how much he has grown in his life and career and emphasized that “our skin is no more than that: it’s just skin.” He also discussed how he is often asked during interviews if he experiences racism, but "tell me about racism" is not a common question that gets asked when he is in conversation with his Black friends. Elba explained that he did not “become an actor because I didn't see Black people doing it and I wanted to change that,” but rather because he was interested in the profession.



In October, Elba spoke to PEOPLE about his then-new Netflix series "Human Playground," a documentary project for which he did some voice acting and penned an introduction to an accompanying photo book. The goal of the documentary and book was to “explore the unifying force sports has on humanity.” Elba explained how working on the project changed his perspective on sports, on being an athlete and on endurance. He also spoke about how he wanted to be an example for others, saying, “it can be done.”

Image Source: GettyImages/Photo by: 	Pietro S. D'Aprano
Image Source: GettyImages/Photo by: Pietro S. D'Aprano



Elba is also promoting "Luther: The Fallen Sun", the film continuation of the popular BBC One series. Elba reprises the character of DCI John Luther, who decides to break out of prison and take care of some unfinished business. Those behind the film said that while fans of the show will be tuning in, you didn’t have to keep up with the program to understand the movie. Furthermore, Elba discussed how the film has a larger platform and its own story, so viewers can watch the film and then go back to binge the series.


Elba has been a powerful presence in the entertainment industry and has used his platform to promote a message of growth and inclusion. Speaking about the need for equity, he said that he became an actor "so that other people, Black kids, but also white kids growing up in the circumstances I grew up in, are able to see there was a kid who came from Canning Town who ended up doing what I do." He counts the work where he is the first Black man to do something as a part of his personal legacy. 

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