David Oyelowo has called for more period films about people of color in Britain, according to The Guardian. The 40-year-old Selma actor says people of color have been “expunged” from British history.
In his new film called A United Kingdom, David Oyelowo plays the role of a scion of a royal family who is being forced into exile after marrying a white British clerical worker. And the actor, who was snubbed at last year’s Oscars despite his phenomenal performance in Selma, says there should be more films like A United Kingdom.
— Konbini (@konbining) December 17, 2016
The Hollywood Reporter noted that David Oyelowo’s Oscars snub was one of the reasons for the start of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. While Oyelowo was nominated for the best actor in a drama award at the Golden Globes, and Selma was nominated for Oscars for best original song and the best picture, Oyelowo did not receive a nomination for best actor at the Oscars. This occurred during the first of two consecutive years in which all 20 acting nominations went to white people.
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During a symposium organized by the BFI Southbank in late 2016, David Oyelowo said he is “hellbent” on making more black-oriented historical and period films to help Britain understand itself.
“People of color have been expunged from Britain’s history.”
David Oyelowo explains that the best way to show Britain how it became what it is now is through movies, because people can learn the history while being entertained.
“That is why I am hellbent on period drama: we need the context so we can build, and then go on to grow.”
In his latest film, David Oyelowo portrays Seretse Khama, who became the center of an international scandal in the 1940s after getting married to a white British clerical worker, Ruth Williams, in London.
Khama, played by David Oyelowo, was then forced into exile by successive British governments, and while in exile he managed to become the first president of Botswana in 1966. A United Kingdom, directed by Amma Asante, headlined the London film festival.
— Jasmine James (@jasminejames342) December 25, 2016
During the symposium, David Oyelowo also revealed that there was one project he tried to make; a project centered on a famous bare-knuckle boxer by the name of Bill Richmond. The actor admits that he grew up watching period dramas, but he never had the chance to see many people of color as the main characters in the 1980s and 1990s.
So David Oyelowo knew he had to find a story to “erode the excuses” for him not doing such a movie. Even though the actor has dealt with the rejection of his projects on many occasions, that wasn’t the most shocking thing to him.
The most shocking and “troubling” thing for David Oyelowo was the fact that moviemakers rejected his projects, saying that audiences are more comfortable with period movies about historical events that they already know about, suggesting that it’s not even an option for audiences to learn something new.
And David Oyelowo is frustrated by the fact that people are “writing him out” of Britain’s history. The actor finds it “unacceptable.”
“As someone of Nigerian descent, as a proud African, as well as a very proud Brit, I know that black people’s history in the UK did not start with the Windrush. We have been here for centuries.”
When David Oyelowo says he’s “hellbent” on bringing more people of color to the big and small screens, he really means it. The actor says HBO’s hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones is far from perfect when it comes to diverse casting, according to the Huffington Post.
In his interview with Radio Times, David Oyelowo said there is “no excuse” for the HBO series not featuring more main characters of color.
“The fact that they put any ethnic minorities in that means that there should be space for bigger characters.”
— magictr (@magictr) December 28, 2016
David Oyelowo explained that there is no reason for Game of Thrones to make a “purely white world” as the HBO series has no “story-driven reasons” to make this world purely white. The actor added that it’s the HBO show’s “conscious decision” to put people of color on the margins instead of giving them main roles.
[Featured Image by Jemal Countess/Getty Images]