Daniel Kaluuya, star of recent horror flick Get Out, has responded to the criticism that he, a British black man, is playing an American black man in a film about U.S. race relations.


Samuel L. Jackson criticized the casting in an interview, saying an African-American would have been better suited for the role. “I tend to wonder what that movie would have been with an American brother who really feels that,” he said. “Some things are universal, but [not everything].”

Kaluuya has responded, with all due respect. “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,” Kaluuya said. “Here’s the thing about that critique, though. I’m dark-skinned. 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.'”

The actor cited the racism that black people face in Brixton and Tottenham as evidence of the hardship faced by blacks in the UK. He says, just because those experiences are not reported, “people get an idea of what they might think the experience is.” Jackson had complained that Kaluuya “grew up in a country where they’ve been interracial dating for a hundred years,” and therefore wasn’t suitable to play a black American dating a white woman.

Kaluuya is frustrated that, “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.” He added, “I resent that I have to prove that I’m black. I don’t know what that is. I’m still processing it.”

In addition, Kaluuya doesn’t want to see Jackson’s critique overshadow the film’s message. “There’s a black writer and director [Jordan Peele] that has written a film that is critically acclaimed, and now is commercially profitable,” he said. “Yet we’re trying to separate ourselves again? There’s enough to deal with.

Star Wars actor John Boyega, who is also a British black man, took to Twitter to stand up for Kaluuya. “Black brits vs African American. A stupid a-s conflict we don’t have time for,” he wrote.

In addition, an opinion writer from The Guardian shared his thought that maybe black Brits are even better suited to portray black Americans. “Perhaps it’s precisely because we are not real American brothers that we black British performers have the ability to unshackle ourselves from the burden of racial realities – and simply play what’s on the page, not what’s in the history books,” reasoned David Harewood.

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