Idris Elba is speaking out against labels.
In a new cover story with Esquire UK, the star of "Luther: The Fallen Sun" spoke up about race and nationality.
Elba said she decided not to become an actor because I didn't see Black people doing it, but I wanted to change that. “I did it because I believed it was a great career and I could do a great job at it. It's the first time for me. I don't want to be the first Black. I'm the first Idris.”
Elba, who received a top-notch stateside performance in "The Wire," who propelled him to become an A-list multi-hyphenate actor, spoke about his childhood in Canning Town, England. The British actor is of Sierra Leonean and Ghanese origins.
“People say you come from a tough neighborhood. That’s not the case,” Elba said. “Canning Town] was a right-wing, white, working-class area. There weren’t that many Asians, but the neighborhood, not so much.”
"I'm always curious why this is fascinating to people." I don't go to my Black friends in conversation and ask them to tell me about racism. I'm not any more Black because I'm in a white area, or more Black because I'm in a Black area. I'm Black. That skin stays with me no matter where I go, every day, through Black areas with white people in it. I'm the same Black."
"Of course, I'm a member of the Black community, but when I travel to America, I'm a prominent member of the British community." That's because we're obsessed with race, and that's how we deal with each other. Racism should be a topic for discussion, but from my perspective, it's only as powerful as you allow it to be.
"I've stopped describing myself as a Black actor because I realized it put me in a box." We've got to. We've got to. Our skin isn't more than that: it's just skin. Rant over."
Elba said, "I accept that part of my journey is to be aware that, in many instances, I might be the first person to wear myself to do a certain thing." That's good, too, because I'll leave it as part of my legacy. So that other people, Black kids, as well as white kids growing up in the situations I grew up in, may be able to see there was a kid from Canning Town who ended up doing what I do."