David Oyelowo: I won’t play ‘the black best friend’

Original article taken from theguardian.com
Written by Benjamin Lee




The Selma star says he’s turned down many roles because they are just stereotypes based on ethnicity.

Given the variety of roles played by David Oyelowo in the past year (a civil rights leader in Selma, an assistant district attorney in A Most Violent Year, a school principal in Interstellar), it’s be natural to assume that he’s open for most roles on screen.

But in a new interview, the British actor has said the one thing he won’t do is play “the black best friend”.

Speaking to NPR, also about his royal African roots; Oyelowo criticised the shoehorning of black characters into certain films and aims to avoid taking any such role.

“Don’t send me your script if you want me to play the black best friend,” he said. “I just won’t do that. You can feel when it’s literally an afterthought; you can feel when it’s like, ‘Oh quick, let’s get some colour in here.’ That I won’t do because it’s disrespectful and, for me, I’m either part of the solution or I’m part of the problem.”

The actor has previously called out the UK film industry for failing to focus on films with black protagonists set in a heroic context.

Oyelowo received a Golden Globe nomination for his part in Selma, the end to a breakout year for the actor. This year, he’s moving to TV for one-off HBO drama Nightingale, starring opposite Kate Mara in fact-based crime drama Captive, playing Nina Simone’s personal assistant in the biopic Nina and heading up indie drama Five Nights in Maine.

He is currently filming a Ugandan chess drama, Queen of Katwe, with Lupita Nyong’o and has just signed on for A United Kingdom with Rosamund Pike.