Early this year, a top Deadline article was “Samuel L Jackson Criticizes Casting British Actors as African American”; other headlines that went viral touched on a similar theme. There was even, “Black American Actors Slighted as Brits Snap Roles.” The coverage left many Hollywood insiders wondering how casting Black British actors became a thing in Hollywood and once people started talking about it, would changes be made to attain more roles for African American actors, who’ve long been slighted in America.
Recently, Khalimah Gaston of the Screening Room ATL premiered a 20-minute short titled “Freedom” featuring Swedish actor Zimzon Lelo. Rolling out sat down with Gaston and the newbie British-Swedish actor to discuss the topic above. Gaston admitted that when she found out Lelo was bringing his film to the States, she wanted to screen it because it was a film with a Black male lead, the cinematography was amazing and she wanted to interview Lelo to find out what all the British hype was about.
The main attraction of the film was the subject matter. Lelo plays Conrad, an aspiring professional bodybuilder who’s suffering from post-traumatic stress.
“Because of our pride, the average Black man would not want to admit suffering from something like post-traumatic stress. However, it’s a big problem amongst African American men. This project was also my first role as a lead character. I’m known as the fitness guy. I had been taking classes and really preparing to nail the role, though. I am also going to admit that when I watched television at my home and saw there was a British guy playing a role opposite Gabrielle Union in BET’s ‘Being Mary Jane,’ it was definitely my motivation for packing my bags up and coming to the States. There are lots of opportunities for us here on the big screen, you know,” explained Lelo.
Click the link to see a video of the interview and get details about the Screening Room features.