Daniel Kaluuya, the star of horror hit "Get Out," responded to Samuel L. Jackson's recent critique that all the good roles for black actors seem to be going to Brits like David Oyelowo and not to Americans.
In an interview with GQ, Kaluuya began by praising the "Pulp Fiction" star: "Big up Samuel L. Jackson, because here's a guy who has broken down doors. He has done a lot so that we can do what we can do."
He continued, "Here's the thing about that critique, though. I'm dark-skinned, bro. When I'm around black people I'm made to feel 'other' because I'm dark-skinned. I've had to wrestle with that, with people going 'You're too black.' Then I come to America and they say, 'You're not black enough.' ... In the black community, I'm dark-skinned. In America, I'm British. Bro!"
In the film, he plays an American who accompanies his white girlfriend (Allison Williams) to meet her parents for the first time. Complications, naturally, ensue.
"That script spoke to me," Kaluuya told GQ." I've been to Ugandan weddings, and funerals, and seen that cousin bring a white girl. That's a thing in all communities... I just want to tell black stories. This is the frustrating thing, bro— in order to prove that I can play this role, I have to open up about the trauma that I've experienced as a black person. I have to show off my struggle so that people accept that I'm black.... I kind of resent that mentality... I resent that I have to prove that I'm black."
On March 6, Jackson told the radio station Hot 97 he would have preferred that an American actor had taken the role. "I tend to wonder what would that movie have been with an American brother who really understands that. ... Daniel grew up in a country where they've been interracial dating for a hundred years. ... What would a brother from America have made of that role?" He added, "Some things are universal, but everything ain't."
Jordan Peele, who wrote and directed "Get Out," told the Guardian that he initially wanted to cast an American "because the movie was so much about representation of the African American experience." He added, "Once I'd wrapped my head around how universal these themes were, it became easy for me to pick Daniel, because at the end of the day, he was the best person for the role."
Jackson has since backpedaled somewhat on his comments, telling THR at the premiere of "King Kong: Skull Island" that he was being critical of the Hollywood system, not of British actors. "It was not a slam against them, but it was just a comment about how Hollywood works in an interesting sort of way sometimes."
"I see black people as one man," Kaluuya told GQ. "When I see people beaten on the streets of America, that hurts me. I feel that."