BAME Actors; What's the Big Fuss?

It seems like everyone is talking about it. Every time I log on to my Facebook there’s another post about BAME (Black, Asian And Minortity Ethnic) actors, equality and true representation of the British culture not being shown on our television screens.

Where to start? With the reaction from Twitter when they discovered John Boyega a black British actor was going to be casted in Star Wars? Or with the reaction from Twitter when it was announced that Hermione in J K Rowling’s Harry Potter theatre production was going to be played by black British actress Noma Dumezweni.

I do not understand how we got here. How in 2016 Ethnic Minorities are still fighting to be heard or seen in any walk of life. It seemed like we were all moving forward, growing up, developing as a human race.

‘Well they did cast a black male in a Star Wars movie’ I hear them say. It’s not enough! We have not come far enough for 2016; I’m sorry but we have not.

With the Oscars approaching, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite begins trending ‘AGAIN,’ as it did last year, for yet ‘AGAIN’ having a lack of diversity in its nominations.

Jada Pinkett Smith released a powerful video on America’s Martin Luther King Day, where she stated that she will be boycotting the Oscars this year, her husband Will Smith and Spike Lee are also set to follow suit.

Idris Elba also recently made a powerful speech to parliament members about roles lacking diversity for women, ethnic minorities and actors with disabilities.

As much as all these speeches are beautiful, powerful, and inspirational. Will anything change?

I’ve said this many times before, but if BAME actors are going to sit around and wait for Neil Cross’s (director of Luther) to give them more roles and representation in film and TV we will be waiting forever.

Like Jada Pinkett Smith said, we have great power and influence and we should use this to develop our own programmes and give back to our own communities.

A lot of BAME British actors jump ship to America, as even though America obviously still has their issues, their opportunities for BAME actors are a lot broader.

Now here’s my problem with that; if all our greatest talents keep jumping ship, how will Britain be able to change and develop for the next generation? We need our best talent here building bridges and ways so that the next set of creative talent in Britain won’t need to struggle as much as we are now.The solution? Build and create our own things! We cannot simply wait on others to give us opportunities all the time, we have to make our own.

Kerry Washington black lead actress in Scandal, the writer, black female Shonda Rhymes; the same with How to get away with murder which has a black female lead Viola Davis. Empire great TV show, great cast full of black actors, writer and director black male Lee Daniels. Creed, black lead actor Michael B Jordan, director black male Ryan Cooler. Being Mary Jane, black lead Gabrielle Union, guess what ethnicity the writer and director is? You guessed it Mara Brock Akil black female. What I am trying to display here is America appears to have more opportunities, but it’s just ethnic minorities writing roles for other ethnic minorities.

If we want to improve things here in the UK we need more ethnic writers, producers, directors; we need our own platforms.

Let’s join together do the work and build the empire! Team work makes the dream work.

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