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Idris Elba: calls for UK film diversity in an essay about representation and love for cinema

Idris Elba, notorious English actor, writer, producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and DJ, has detailed his views on the film industry and the Black Lives Matter movement in a powerful and meaningful essay for The Sunday Times.

The British star said we have seen “unprecedented unity” around the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the brutal murder of George Floyd that inspired worldwide protests to achieve racial equality.

Idris Elba called for more diversity in film. Image credit Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/MetroUK

“I’ve been through four or five moments of a massive protest in my lifetime: from Brixton to Tottenham, you name it, I’ve seen them, and this one has a very different character,” Elba declared.

“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.”

Elba continued in his essay, which reads: “Lots of open, sometimes quite difficult conversations are being had right now and many of us are on a journey of education. Independent film is a vital part of that.”

He also talked about the UK’s “cultural recovery” as being just as fundamental as restarting the economy after the hard hit of the COVID-19 outbreak and the consequent lockdown.

“We have to develop new talent, and a duty to keep our film culture alive, so that more people like me can tell you our stories,” he said.

“Storytelling helps us understand each other better, and understanding each other better is the best hope we have.”

Idris Elba. Image credit Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic/NME

Meanwhile, in the UK the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked widespread calls for change in the British entertainment industries, but also in the whole societal system that has found itself deeply in need for racial equality.

To this matter, this week the BBC tried to push its diversity ambition announcing it will invest £100m to increasing its representation both on and off-screen.

The news comes after 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen pointed out that the UK TV and film industries needed to address and challenge the “blatant racism” within itself.

“Last year, I visited a TV-film set in London,” he wrote. “It felt like I had walked out of one environment, the London I was surrounded by, into another, a place that was alien to me… The UK is so far behind in terms of representation, it’s shameful.”


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