Should British Black people be given film roles representing African Americans? Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t believe so. Recently, Jackson made some comments on Hot 97 radio that turned heads. He feels that African Americans and British Blacks have not experienced the same histories, so it does not make sense to have British Blacks getting roles representing African Americans. Later on after much public debate, he clarified to the Associated Press that he isn’t against the British Black actors themselves, but against the system. He’s against how Hollywood casts.
Jackson’s point is not unreasonable. This has been a debate for years. Giving roles to people who do correctly represent the character’s race or ethnicity happens. The Asian community has suffered from this arguably the most and it has raised a lot of questions. But, the British Black versus African American debate is unique because before American slavery, Blacks came from the same continent, Africa.
Daniel Kaluuya, the star of the critically acclaimed movie Get Out, who Jackson’s comments were indirectly about, responded in a GQ interview by saying, well, yes you went through slavery, but it’s maybe unfair to infer that British Blacks haven’t gone through hardship. He’s not saying that it is as bad slavery (obviously), but British Blacks have faced a lot of racism in their history as well.
This debate is relatively new, so there isn’t much of a consensus answer, but it is important to look at it from both sides. In general, Samuel L. Jackson’s comments are very relevant to Hollywood’s umbrella issue of casting. Who get’s what roles, and why?