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Wasn’t getting roles in UK because of my skin colour: Daniel Kaluuya

Actor Daniel Kaluuya  (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Actor Daniel Kaluuya (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Actor Daniel Kaluuya says he often lost out on roles due to producers’ apparent prejudice in favour of the white skin.

Frustrated, the 30-year-old actor headed to America, he said.

“I was going for a lot of stuff (in England). But I wasn’t getting roles because of the colour of my skin. It wasn’t fair. It was a trap.

“For example, I went up for this show. It was ten rounds of auditions. There was me and a white guy for the lead. It was about aliens. And I realised as I was going to one audition that the other guy had been given an acting coach. They didn’t love me like they loved him,” Kaluuya told The Sunday Times.

“In any other profession, that would be weird, but it was accepted in mine. It happened a few times, and I went, ‘Nah. I’m not an idiot’,” he added.

Kaluuya later starred in Jordan Peele”s 2017 horror film Get Out and was nominated for best actor at the Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Screen Actors Guild Awards for his performance.

The actor, who grew up on an estate in Kentish Town, London, further said he is “confusing” to people in the US because Americans are used to being sold British exports such as Downton Abbey and The Crown.

“There’s Brand Britain, so there’s an awareness that I’m British, but they don’t know me. I’m just seen as privileged because I have an English accent,” he said.

“That story (of coming from an estate) isn’t sold. It isn’t sold internationally. They only sell Downton Abbey. What was being sent abroad was a certain brand of Britain that, maybe, is what Americans want it to be. Then someone goes to London and realises it’s similar to New York – but that story’s not sold,” he added.

Kaluuya’s comments come days after 2020 BAFTAs was criticised for the lack of diversity in nominations for its annual film awards.

Among the stars snubbed despite collecting awards and nominations in other ceremonies this year were Jennifer Lopez for Hustlers, Eddie Murphy for Dolemite Is My Name, Lupita Nyong’o for Us, Antonio Banderas for Pain & Glory and Cynthia Erivo for Harriet.

Kaluuya will next be seen in Queen & Slim, a film about a black couple who go on the run after shooting a police officer in self-defence, which is slated for a January 31 release.