Daniel Kaluuya respects Samuel L. Jackson, but he doesn’t agree with the veteran actor’s assessment that he’s any less qualified to play the African-American lead character in Jordan Peele’s racial horror-comedy Get Out because he’s British. After Jackson wondered “what Get Out would have been with an American brother who really feels that,” he clarified that he was really referring to a structural bias in Hollywood that seems to prefer black British actors over their African-American counterparts. Speaking to GQ, Kaluuya said that there’s no universal black experience, but Jordan Peele’s social horror-thriller about liberal white racism and microaggressions still felt relevant and true to his own life as someone who grew up abroad:
Big up Samuel L. Jackson, because here’s a guy who has broken down doors. He has done a lot so that we can do what we can do.
Here’s the thing about that critique, though. I’m dark-skinned, bro. 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!
Kaluuya recounted examples of racism faced by black people in the U.K., and insisted that he wasn’t comparing racism experienced by two separate cultures, just that he’s devoted to telling black stories:
Let me say, I’m not trying to culture-vulture the thing. I empathize. That script spoke to me. I’ve been to Ugandan weddings, and funerals, and seen that cousin bring a white girl. That’s a thing in all communities. I really respect African American people. I just want to tell black stories.
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. You probably feel that as a writer, too. Just because you’re black, you’re taken and used to represent something. It mirrors what happens in the film.