The whole world seems to be raving about Get Out and its star Daniel Kaluuya. But Samuel L. Jackson isn't quite so impressed. Recently, the Hollywood icon talked about having issue with the film casting an English actor, as opposed to an American one, for a role about the African-American experience, asking, “I tend to wonder what that movie [Get Out] would have been with an American brother who really feels that."
Now, Kaluuya is responding to Jackson's critique with words of his own, saying, " I resent that I have to prove that I’m Black."
Kaluuya spoke with GQ and shared his feelings about Jackson's issue with his casting in depth. “Here’s the thing about that critique, though. I’m dark-skinned, bro,” he said. “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.’ I go to Uganda, I can’t speak the language. In India, I’m Black. In the Black community, I’m dark-skinned. In America, I’m British. Bro!”
He went on to highlight that the experience of exclusion and disenfranchisement is universal for all people of color, saying, "You’re getting singled out for the color of your skin, but not the content of your spirit, and that’s everywhere.” Adding, “That’s my whole life, being seen as ‘other.’ Not fitting in in Uganda, not Britain, not America. They just highlight whatever feature they want.
“I really respect African-American people. I just want to tell Black stories,” Kaluuya said. “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. No matter that every single room I go to I’m usually the darkest person there. You know what I’m saying? I kind of resent that mentality. I’m just an individual. Just because you’re Black, you're taken and used to represent something. It mirrors what happens in the film. I resent that I have to prove that I’m Black. I don’t know what that is. I’m still processing it.”
Kaluuya wasn't the only actor to respond to Jackson's opinion. TMZ caught up with American Gods star Ricky Whittle and asked what he thought of the controversy.
See his answer below:
Jackson later clarified his comments and said he wasn’t blaming Kaluuya, but the Hollywood system that seemingly shuts out Black American 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,” Jackson said. “We’re not afforded that same luxury, but that’s fine, we have plenty of opportunities to work,” he added.
Still, by Kaluuya's comments, it is clear that he has faced this kind of criticism in the past, it is a shame that this time it came from one of the more impactful voices in Black Hollywood.
See what the cast of Get Out learned about racism from the film in our exclusive interview, above.
(Photos from left: Andrew Toth/Getty Images, Ian Gavan/Getty Images)