David Oyelowo moved to LA to further his acting career eight years ago and has since landed several successful roles and a Golden Globe nomination.
But the British star, who won rave reviews for his portrayal of Martin Luther King in the movie Selma, says he felt ‘pushed out of the UK’ due to the lack of opportunities for black actors.
The 39-year-old believes that things have actually gotten worse for aspiring actors from minority backgrounds over the years.
‘I felt pushed out of the UK because of the glass ceiling I could feel my head bobbing against,’ David said at the launch of a report into diversity in the UK’s creative industries by the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) and the MOBO organisation.
‘I could see that actors, my peers, those who had a similar trajectory to me were going on to do movies, to play leads’.
David, who trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), said he had to work four times as hard as his good friend Benedict Cumberbatch to get to an even slightly similar position.
He finally made the decision to move to the US during a Stateside trip to promote his role in BBC One show Spooks.
‘I walked around LA and I saw black people on magazine covers, in commercials, on billboards, black people integrated into society in a way I didn’t see here and I started to get uncomfortable with where I lived,’ he says.
‘I felt I was planting my seed in infertile ground.’
David believes that one of the key problems is that those in charge of commissioning tend to be white, middle-class men.
‘We have to change the faces, the gender, of the people who are in positions of power to greenlight projects,’ he says.
He also revealed that he started getting offers for roles back home once he’d make a name for himself in the States.
‘I thought wow, I have to leave and have success elsewhere in order for my ability to be validated’.
David has starred in a number of high profile films including Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Interstellar, Jack Reacher and of course Selma, since moving to America.
The father-of-four, who’s married to English actress Jessica Oyelowo, appeared in Spooks from 2002 to 2004 and starred in the BBC adaptation of Andrea Levy’s novel Small Island in 2009.
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