David Oyelowo frustrated by British cinema

'Selma' star David Oyelowo has blasted British cinema, saying he doesn't think it tells stories "with black protagonists in a heroic context"

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David Oyelowo

David Oyelowo

David Oyelowo doesn't think British cinema tells stories "with black protagonists in a heroic context".

The 38-year-old actor - who recently starred as civil rights leader Martin Luther King in the Ava DuVernay-directed movie 'Selma' - claims he's been forced to head to Hollywood in order to further his career.

He shared: "I'd never get to play a character akin to Dr King living and working here. If I looked like Benedict [Cumberbatch] or Eddie Redmayne, I could do the films they have done that are being celebrated now.

"But myself, Idris Elba and Chiwetel Ejiofor had to gain our success elsewhere because there is not a desire to tell stories with black protagonists in a heroic context within British film."

Oyelowo said he aspires to appear in British movies that tell similarly inspiring stories, but admits it's like banging his "head against a brick wall".

He told the Big Issue: "That is a huge ambition of mine. But I am not going to continue to bash my head against a brick wall. I tried very hard while I was here. And we have a system in place that makes it very difficult.

"The class system in the UK is very real. The old boys' club is very real. America has its own challenges but the system is tied to money."

Selma

  • 5 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 128 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Ava DuVernay
  • Cast: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth, Tom Wilkinson
  • UK release: 6 February 2015

The story of the 1965 civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, with Martin Luther King (Oyelowo) facing a nervous President Johnson (Wilkinson) and Alabama's racist Governor Wallace (Roth). Among a stellar cast Oyelowo is exceptional, and DuVernay and Webb capture both the greatness and the limitations of King's…

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