David Harewood: 'Young black actors must go to US'
Tuesday 31 January 2012
David Harewood has criticised the lack of opportunities for young black actors in the UK and has advised them to consider heading to the US.
The star - who was recently awarded an MBE - said there was a lack of "authoritative, strong black characters" for British actors.
Birmingham-born Harewood blamed the British TV industry for its lack of risk-taking and said it was less "ambitious" than its US counterpart.
Harewood, 46, made his comments at the launch of Homeland, a new US drama series in which he stars that is shortly to be screened by Channel 4.
Harewood plays the director of a CIA counter-terrorism team in the Golden Globe-winning thriller, also starring fellow Brit Damian Lewis, as well as Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin.
He said: "Unfortunately there really aren't that many roles for authoritative, strong, black characters in this country. We just don't write those characters, that's a fact."
Harewood said British actor Idris Elba - who found fame in Baltimore-based The Wire - had talked to him about the greater opportunities offered across the Atlantic.
He said: "I can remember talking to Idris years ago about these frustrations and he told me 'I'm going to America', and I kind of thought, 'What are you doing that for?'.
"Look at him now. He's a huge star; he made the right decision, even though it took him a long time to crack the US.
"I knew what I needed to do. I simply wouldn't have been given a role of that strength and authority in the UK."
Harewood has received acclaim for his portrayal of Nelson Mandela in BBC drama Mrs Mandela and the late Martin Luther King in London play The Mountaintop.
"Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King are great roles, but they are very few and far between for us," he said.
"I don't want to trash this place, but I do think there is a certain lack of ambition in terms of telling a global story," he said.
"It's quite parochial sometimes. I don't think it's as ambitious. When you're sitting down watching the best of American TV, it is risk-taking."
He advised aspiring black British thespians to try their craft in the US.
"I would encourage, particularly young, black actors, to get to America or to at least try and have that ambition in your back pocket.
"They do seem to embrace a more diverse palette, and I think that's sad but that's just a fact. So I would encourage people to get there as quickly as they can."
Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
- 5 British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Mr Selfridge series 3: Actress Kara Tointon says 'we're starting to see his demise'
Ed Sheeran texts Noel Gallagher to offer him tickets after Wembley Stadium rant
Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Taylor Swift banned from Triple J Hottest 100: Fans react to epic #Tay4Hottest100 defeat
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'