Selma star, David Oyelowo draws attention towards the lack of diversity, behind the camera. What we mean by ‘behind the camera’ in this context is, the team that calls the shots, the big wigs i.e. the producers and other decision makers in the TV and film production companies.
David Oyelowo, started his career in the UK, with spy drama Spooks, but later moved to the United States to try his luck at better opportunities in the Land of Opportunities. The Oxford born was, in fact right in doing so as he secured roles in critically acclaimed and very successful productions like The Help, The Butler and the very recent star-studded Sci-Fi production, Interstellar.
The Selma star feels there is a ‘talent drain’ as black and actors from other ethnic minority groups move away looking for better prospects, across the pond. Oyelowo adds that the only way to put a halt to this ‘drain’ is to increase diversity among the decision makers in the industry.
Oyelowo’s sentiments followed comments from EastEnders boss, Dominic Tradwell-Collin, who felt that the production companies shouldn’t give into complaints and start ‘box ticking’ to ‘provide an authentic portrayal’ of Britain today.
In an interview with The Independent, Oyelowo explains; “I think that the way to stop the talent drain is to really examine the people who are making decisions, both at TV channels and film production companies.”
He further adds, “we need a level of diversity in terms of the decision makers because ultimately the reality is we all want to see ourselves on film and what we see on-screen is the reflection of the people who are making decisions – they are basically green-lighting projects that speak to them and the lives they lead, and that is not reflective of society generally.”
With the diversity Britain embraces on a daily basis, it is only fair that there are more roles created for actors from ethnic minority groups. In the States, there are more opportunities due to their history for example characters such as Dr. King or Malcolm X, will always be played by an actor of black origins.
As Oyelowo expresses his frustration regarding the lack of opportunities in the industry for black actors, “it’s challenging because a lot of the time actors of my age and of my peer group have had a lot more opportunities. With a film like Selma I don’t have to compete with Ryan Gosling or Tom Hardy or Michael Fassbender because, let’s be honest, they can’t play Dr King, but if they could it probably wouldn’t be me.”
“All it means is I have to work as hard as I can so when those opportunities come my way I excel at them and hopefully become part of sea change.”
Similar measures should be taken to produce roles in British production companies as a diverse society truly is the correct picture of modern Britain.