Daniel Kaluuya, star of smash hit Get Out, has responded to Samuel L. Jackson’s recent comments about black British actors in American roles, defending his casting and his experience as a black man.
In an interview with GQ, Kaluuya criticized the notion that he could not fully understand the plight of African-Americans due to his nationality, commenting, “I resent that I have to prove that I’m black. ”
“To prove that I can play this role, I have to open up about the trauma that I’ve experienced as a black person,” Kaluuya said. “I have to show off my struggle so that people accept that I’m black.”
Kaluuya reacted to Jackson’s comment on whether or not having an American in the role of a black man meeting his girlfriend’s liberal, white, racist family would have made the film different somehow.
“There are a lot of black British actors in these movies,” Jackson told New York radio station Hot 97. “I tend to wonder what that ‘Get Out’ would have been with an American brother who really feels that.” He continued, “What would a brother from America have made of that role? Some things are universal, but not everything.”
Kaluuya, featured in the upcoming “Black Panther” film and recently cast as the lead in Steve McQueen’s “Widows,” was born in England to Ugandan immigrant parents.
He expressed frustration at being perceived as “not black enough,” when he and other black Brits often experience discrimination in a country with a history of racism.
“I’m dark-skinned, bro. When I’m around black people I’m made to feel ‘other’ because I’m dark-skinned,” he added. “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.’ I go to Uganda, I can’t speak the language. In India, I’m black. In the black community, I’m dark-skinned. In America, I’m British.”
Kaluuya compared the situation to the plot of “Get Out,” in which black people are often made to speak for their race. “Just because you’re black, you taken and used to represent something,” he said. “It mirrors what happens in the film.”