This feature can also be found at the South West Londoner, here.
The other day, I was in a conversation on the internet about the development of an indie video game. The main characters were to have voice actors, and it just so happened one of the cast was a black guy.
The number of people who suddenly yelled “He should be voiced by Samuel L. Jackson!” was overwhelming.
It made me wonder about the presence of black actors in major releases these days. Setting aside that the internet is filled with idiots, is Samuel L. Jackson the only option Hollywood has for ‘the black guy’?
Well, no, I’m being hyperbolic – we also have Will Smith. If the role requires someone older, or a narrator, Morgan Freeman’s usually the port of call.
There are others (no need to bring up each name of every rapper who’s turned a hand to film, for example), but they’re very rarely cut out for anything other than a comedy relief role.
If Hollywood needs a British black actor for whatever reason, they’re stuck. Ocean’s Twelve had to settle for Don Cheadle putting on a disgustingly poor Cockney accent.
That’s not to say that there’s a total dearth of black actors out there, it’s just that they often don’t seem to get the kind of high profile exposure that other actors of a similar (or even worse) skill level get.