Kaluuya spoke on race, his role in Queen & Slim and more in a new interview.
In an interview with Radio Times, Kaluuya said he resisted the racial narrative he felt himself being forced into. “I’m not going to ignore that I’m surrounded by [racial issues], but I’m not defined by it. I’m just Daniel, who happens to be black.”
It’s hard to hear that Kaluuya is tired of talking about race especially since a few of his breakout films are spearheaded by a crop of talented black directors like Jordan Peele (Get Out), Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), and Melina Matsoukas (Queen & Slim). These films also are categorized as black stories equipped with talent worthy of the critical acclaim they’ve received. Get Out aggressively focused on his character interacting with his white girlfriend’s family during a trip to their home.
For his role in Peele’s directorial debut, Kaluuya received numerous nominations including nods from the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes in 2018 to name a few. He actually won the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) Rising Star Award and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, also in 2018. When touching on this year’s Oscar and BAFTA nominations lack of diversity he said he’d didn’t want to be pushed into becoming a spokesperson for Black actors. He reportedly said, “What is there to talk about race? It’s just boring to me. What’s the debate? I’m more of a doer. I’m just going to do what I want to do.”
Daniel added that he had played a variety of roles that time and time again went ignored. “The Fades ain’t about race, Psychoville ain’t about race, Skins ain’t about race, Chatroom ain’t about race, Johnny English Reborn ain’t about race. But that almost gets erased. There’s a narrative that is pushed.”
For those who may be wondering why he took a leading role in Matsoukas’ directorial debut Queen & Slim, Kaluuya notes he was attracted to the love story element of the movie. “Yes, it’s got those moments [about race] but that’s more of a catalyst,” he shared. In the film starring Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith, the two go out on a date after meeting on Tinder and end up finding themselves in a nationwide manhunt after he fatally shoots a racist police officer on their way home.
In case you need a refresher, a few weeks ago, Daniel shared he wasn’t considered for roles in the UK because of racism. Now, he clarifies that it solely was due to the fact that there was a lack of challenging roles: he was too old to play children and too young to play men.
Kaluuya later noted that he’s currently open to playing roles in the UK, at the moment he’s reportedly filming a project in the U.S. Our bet is that it’s the Ryan Coogler-led Jesus Was My Homeboy, a movie about Black Panther activist Fred Hampton. It would be impossible for him to star in this film and expect writers, reporters and the like to not question him about race.
Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer where she covers culture, music, and fashion. You can see what's on her mind @robyn_mowatt.