Actor Idris Elba addressed British Parliament about the need for diversity on screen: 'Change is coming, but it's taking its sweet time'

While the discussion over the lack of minorities in this year’s Academy Awards nominations is at an all-time high here in the US, across the pond, actor Idris Elba has thoughts about the need to change the landscape of movies and television.

Elba addressed UK’s Parliament on Tuesday with a speech about the need for greater screen diversity. It marked a year since the UK’s Channel 4 launched the 360 Diversity Charter, an initiative pledging that 20% of all staff will be African-American, Asian, or minority ethnic by 2020, while also targeting the employment of gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and people with disabilities.

“I’m not here to talk about black people,” Elba said in his remarks. “I’m here to talk about diversity. Diversity in the modern world is more than just skin colour — it’s gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, social background, and — most important of all, as far as I’m concerned — diversity of thought.”

As it happens, Elba was one of the major snubs at this year’s Oscars, as many believed his name would be called in either best actor or supporting actor for his performance in “Beasts of No Nation.”

But Elba’s speech was not a retaliation to the snub. According to Deadline, the speech was set up months ago and the actor, also known for his lead role on TV’s “Luther,” had been working on it for weeks.

“When you get out more, you see there’s a disconnect between the real world and TV world,” Elba said. “People in the TV world often aren’t the same as people in the real world. And there’s an even bigger gap between people who make TV, and people who watch TV. I should know, I live in the TV world. And although there’s a lot of reality TV, TV hasn’t caught up with reality. Change is coming, but it’s taking its sweet time.”

Elba lists these as the three ways to make significant change in the industry regarding diversity:

“1. A change of mindset: get all commissioners and content creators to think about diversifying at the beginning of the creative process, not the end.

2. Transparency: friendly competition between broadcasters. See who’s 
actually doing the best creative diversity. Benchmark it.
 That encourages everyone to do better.

3. A different approach toward risk. The story of Netflix is that risk-taking delivers audiences.”

You can read Elba’s complete speech over at Deadline.


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