Idris Elba says he no longer calls himself a black actor because it puts him in a “box.”

Idris Elba has said he no longer calls himself a “black actor” because the label puts him in a “box”.

The Luther star said that “as humans we are obsessed with race” and that the “obsession can really hinder people’s aspirations” and “growth”.

Elba, 50, made the comments during an interview with Esquire UK.

He said, “If half the time we didn’t talk about the differences but about the similarities between us, the whole planet would undergo a shift in the way we relate to each other.”

The actor went on to say that while “racism is very real”, his perspective is that “it’s only as powerful as you let it be”.

Elba said: “I stopped describing myself as a black actor when I realized it put me in a box. We must grow. We have to. Our skin is just that: it’s just skin. Go on a rampage.”

The actor – also known for his role as Stringer Bell in HBO’s The wire – said he got into the industry because “I thought that was a great profession and I could do well”.

“When you climb the ladder, you’re asked what it’s like to be the first black person to do this or that,” he said. “Well, it’s the same as it would be if I were white. It’s the first time for me. I don’t want to be the first black. I am the first Idris.”

Idris Elba in 'Luther: The Fallen Sun' (Netflix)

Idris Elba in ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ (Netflix)

Elba said he is aware that in “a lot of cases, I might be the first one like me to do something. And that’s good, to leave as part of my legacy.”

He continued: “So that other people, black kids, but also white kids who grew up in the conditions I grew up in, can see that there was a boy from Canning Town who ended up doing what I do. It can be done.”

Fellow actor John Boyega has responded to the comments on Twitter, appearing to call Elba’s decision not to call himself a black actor a “weird adjustment”.

“I think that’s why we need to fixate on who’s doing typecasting and pigeonholing actors,” Boyega replied. “Not to make weird adjustments for them. We constantly focus on what to do so that they don’t do this or that. Very worrying. We BLACK and that’s that.”

In 2020, Boyega was outspoken about the racism he faced because of his role in Star Wars.

The actor – who played Finn in Disney’s sequel trilogy – said he spoke out about his experience in the franchise in hopes it would open doors for other actors.

John Boyega (Getty Images)

John Boyega (Getty Images)

He criticized the franchise, saying that white characters were given more nuance and attention than his or Asian-American actor Kelly Marie Tran’s character.

In a later interview, Boyega revealed that he was approached by a Disney executive after his comments were published, leading to a “very honest, very transparent conversation”.

Elba is next seen in the highly anticipated movie, Luther: fallen sun.

The film, directed by Jamie Payne, will be in theaters for a week from February 24 before being released on Netflix on March 10.

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