Photo: Anadolu Agency / Contributor via Getty Images
  /  03.05.2023

Idris Elba is over his remarks about not labeling himself as a Black actor being misconstrued.

“I feel as I get older — I’m 50 now — we all have fears of saying too much, oversharing, and whatnot. And in this day and age, it’s really difficult to have an opinion if you’re in the public eye because it gets overly scrutinized, taken out of context, thrown into some sort of bulls**t zeitgeist social media argument,” he told The Guardian in an interview published on Friday (March 3).

Last month, Elba inadvertently sparked a debate when he said that being labeled a Black actor can pigeonhole talent. He explained that his comments were not intended to imply that he is not proud to be Black. “Me saying I don’t like to call myself a Black actor is my prerogative,” he told the U.K.-based publication. “That’s me, not you. So for you to turn around and say to me, I’m ‘denying my Blackness.’ On what grounds? Did you hear that? Where am I denying it? And what for? It’s just stupid. Whatever.”

During his February interview with Esquire, the topic of racism and the emphasis society places on skin color was broached. Only a portion of Elba’s comment became a viral talking point; however, his full remarks are below:

“If we spent half the time not talking about the differences but the similarities between us, the entire planet would have a shift in the way we deal with each other. As humans, we are obsessed with race,” he said. “And that obsession can really hinder people’s aspirations, hinder people’s growth. Racism should be a topic for discussion, sure. Racism is very real. But from my perspective, it’s only as powerful as you allow it to be. I stopped describing myself as a Black actor when I realized it put me in a box. We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to. Our skin is no more than that — it’s just skin. Rant over.”

Elba made a previous attempt to shut down critics who felt outraged by his remarks. “There isn’t a soul on this earth that can question whether I consider myself a BLACK MAN or not. Being an ‘actor’ is a profession, like being an ‘architect.’ They are not defined by race. However, if YOU define your work by your race, that is your prerogative. Ah lie?” he tweeted.

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