Idris Elba has urged the U.K.’s film industry not to lose momentum when it comes to improving diversity on and off screen.
In a moving opinion piece for The Sunday Times, the Luther actor warned that “without the right support from the government, projects without easy resources or connections are going to battle to get their stories told — and the diversity of our film culture will end up seriously on the brink.”
The Golden Globe-winning star referenced a speech he gave in parliament four years ago in which he called for greater diversity in British film and TV. At the time, Elba said he would have got stuck playing “best friends” and “cop sidekick parts” in the U.K. if he hadn’t landed his breakthrough role in The Wire, a huge series in the U.S.
“Four years later I’ve seen the needle start to move,” he wrote in his opinion piece. “I’m encouraged to see companies, businesses, organizations, individuals change the way they feel about equality. But when things get tough, diversity often suffers, and we can’t lose the momentum and let things go backwards.”
Elba also shared some reflections on the global Black Lives Matter movement. “We’ve seen unprecedented unity around the Black Lives Matter campaign and the death of George Floyd,” he wrote. “I’ve been through four or five moments of massive protest in my lifetime: from Brixton to Tottenham, you name it, I’ve seen them, and this one has a very different character. It feels as though it’s about an entire nation, and a nation finally acknowledging its diversity needs a diverse film culture — we have to protect it at the time we need it most.”
“Lots of open, sometimes quite difficult conversations are being had right now and many of us are on a journey of education,” he added. “Independent film is a vital part of that.”
Elba used his opinion piece to urge the British government to provide additional support for the independent film industry as the U.K.’s movie theaters begin to reopen following their coronavirus closure.
“Without additional funding from the government, many smaller cinemas, including [London’s] BFI Southbank, just can’t afford to reopen,” he wrote. “For many towns that means losing the beating heart of their community. Independent production companies will go out of business, and our freelancers will be without work because the risks and costs of shooting in a covid world are just too high.”
You can read Elba’s full piece here.
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