Are Black British actors better performers than Black Americans in race films?

LOS ANGELES, CA. January 19, 2017: Actor Samuel L. Jackson at the Los Angeles premiere of "XXX: Return of Xander Cage" at the TCL Chinese Theatre, Hollywood. (Photo Credit: Jaguar PS )
LOS ANGELES, CA. Jan. 19, 2017: Actor Samuel L. Jackson at the Los Angeles premiere of “XXX: Return of Xander Cage” at the TCL Chinese Theatre, Hollywood. (Photo credit: Jaguar PS )

Earning over $100 million in its box-office debut, Get Out is a satirical horror film exemplifying the fright embedded beneath interracial dating in the United States. Chris Washington, played by British actor Daniel Kaluuya, fights modern slavery and racism in an attempt to save his own life, and eventually “Get Out.”

In a recent interview, Samuel L. Jackson made a comment discrediting Hollywood films for casting Black British actors to play African American roles because they do not relate to the same issues that the characters are trying to portray as Black Americans.

“We’ve got a lot of brothers here that need to work too,” Jackson said. This movie was so much about [the] representation of the African American experience.” He continued, “I tend to wonder what that movie would have been with an American brother who really feels that.”

Black British actors are commonly found in popular Black American films about race. Both earning over $50 million at the box office, 12 Years a Slave and Selma have Black British leads and illustrate racial issues in the United States. On the contrary, Crash and Higher Learning are two Black American race films that earned either the same or less at the box office with Black American leads.

Daniel Kaluuya arrives for the"Johnny English Re-Born" premiere at the Empire Leicester Square, London. 02/09/2011 Picture by: Steve Vas / Featureflash via shutterstock
Daniel Kaluuya arrives for the Johnny English Re-Born premiere at the Empire Leicester Square, London. 02/09/2011 Picture by: Steve Vas / Featureflash via shutterstock

Contrary to what Jackson may think, Black British actors still encounter the same issues in their native land.

“I’m dark-skinned, bro. When I’m around Black people I’m made to feel ‘other’ because I’m dark-skinned. I’ve had to wrestle with that, with people going ‘you’re too Black.’ Then I come to America and they say, ‘you’re not Black enough,’ ” the Get Out star said in response to Jackson’s comments.

“Let me say, I’m not trying to culture-vulture the thing. I empathize,” he said. “That script spoke to me. I really respect African-American people. I just want to tell Black stories.”

The truth is, in fact, that Black British actors have the proper classical theater training to portray any role. Their leads in Black American racial films chart better at the box office strictly because they were more talented and the storyline was more interesting or relatable to certain audiences.

Not only is Daniel Kaluuya extremely talented and willing to interpret the character that was originally written in the script, but he is also able to find a deeper connection to Chris.

Jamaica Greenwood
Jamaica Greenwood

A lover of entertainment and a joy to be around, Jamaica is a current student at Spelman College studying film and media.

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  2. Russell Crowe, Australian, New Zealand, and Christian Bale, Welsh, UK both played American cowboys in the same damn movie! …and nobody bats an eye. 3:10 To Yuma.

  3. Like a famous rapper once told me,,,Black is Black!!!!!! And I’m sure when Samuel and nem master an English accent and not the one he did in that Spike Lee Joint they’ll be happy to hire them too 🙂

  4. Bedwench… Malcolm X and the original Roots series didn’t need non-American blacks to portray us, and those films are some of the most important ever made.

  5. Get Out is a one off, Black films starring British actors do poorly at the box office. 48 percent of the tickets purchased are by blacks and Hispanics and they are NOT paying to see black brits.

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