Idris Elba Addresses Lack of Diversity in Hollywood, Britain

His comments follow the #OscarSoWhite controversy in America.

January 19, 2016, 1:01 PM

— -- The issue of diversity in the entertainment industry has spread across the pond.

Idris Elba, who many felt should have received an Oscar nomination for his performance in "Beast of No Nation," took up the issue on Monday before a group of British members of Parliament on Monday, The Guardian reported.

While not commenting directly on the current controversy surrounding the Oscars, Elba did address the lack of diversity in British television.

"When you don’t reflect the real world, too much talent is actually trashed. Talent is everywhere, opportunity isn’t. And talent can’t reach opportunity unaided," he said. "Change is coming, but it’s going to take its sweet time."

Ironically, Elba, 43, whose breakthrough role was drug kingpin Stringer Bell in "The Wire," told the group that he had to go to America to get more acting opportunities.

"I knew I wasn’t going to land a lead role [in the U.K.]. I knew there wasn’t enough imagination in the industry for me to be seen as a lead," he said. "In other words, if I wanted to star in a British drama like 'Luther,' then I’d have to go to a country like America. And the other thing was, because I never saw myself on TV, I stopped watching TV. Instead I decided to just go out and become TV."

But the entertainment industry in America is far from perfect, he added.

"This is what every young British actor asks me -- black, white, male, female -- should I go to America to become a successful actor?" Elba said, according to the BBC. "And I'm always in a quandary because it's not always true that the grass is greener. The reason I went to America is because the U.S.A. has the most famous diversity policy of all and it's called the 'American Dream.'"

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs released a statement Monday about the "lack of inclusion" at the 2016 Oscars, saying that she is "heartbroken and frustrated."

"This is a difficult but important conversation, and it's time for big changes," Boone Isaacs wrote, adding that her team has already implemented some changes but acknowledged that more needs to be done.

A statement from Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs

— The Academy (@TheAcademy) January 19, 2016

Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee have already announced that they will not be attending the Academy Awards because of the #OscarSoWhite controversy. They were joined by Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, who tweeted Monday that he will also skip the Oscars this year.

I support @jadapsmith and @SpikeLee and will join with them. I believe the Academy will fix this. Thank you President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 19, 2016

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