Lenny Henry, a friend of the actor, said Harewood was “still upset there weren’t offers here in the UK”.
“It’s very difficult if you are an ethnic actor in Britain. You’re waiting and waiting and waiting for work,” the comedian said.
Speaking to an audience at Bafta about the lack of ethnic diversity in TV, Henry said Britain’s most talented ethnic actors “are increasingly frustrated, and have to go to America to succeed”.
Henry pointed to the all-white casts of some of the UK’s most popular shows, including Miranda, Mrs Brown’s Boys and The Fall, comparing them to the “seamless integration” of ethnic actors in front of the camera in the US.
Harewood, 48, has only been offered minor roles in British dramas since starring as CIA chief David Estes in the Emmy Award-winning series Homeland.
He is currently in America filming new movie Free in Deed, a drama about a man who attempts to cure an 8-year-old autistic child, and has also been cast in a pilot for US TV comedy Selfie.
Watch Lenny Hennry's Bafta lecture in full at guru.bafta.org