David Oyelowo committed to movie diversity for kids
- Bang Showbiz
- 16 June 2017
'Selma' star David Oyelowo says his motivation to constantly call for more diversity in the movie industry is so that in the future having actors of colour in lead roles regularly is a normal thing
David Oyelowo is committed to pushing for more diversity in films so his kids will no longer be shocked to see people the same colour as them in lead roles.
The 41-year-old British star - whose parents are Nigerian - is one of the loudest voices when it comes to calling for bigger parts for actors of colour.
Oyelowo has four children, aged 15, 12, eight and five, with his actress wife Jessica Oyelowo and was shocked when he told his eldest son that he would be starring in Disney film 'Queen of Katwe' and he asked him if he would be playing the "best friend", a comment which reinforced to him that audiences expect to see black actors in supporting roles.
In an interview on UK station BBC Radio 4, he said: "One of the biggest reasons I become so adamant with diversity and how we are going to move this conversation forward was a few years ago I told my eldest son I was about to do this film. 'Queen of Katwe' was a Disney movie and his first question was, 'Daddy are you going to play the best friend?' And that's reflective of what he thinks a film made by Disney or a big Hollywood film is for a person of my colour and by the way that was after playing Martin Luther King Jr. in 'Selma'. If my son is saying that out of a completely innocent place with no sense of irony, clearly he is being fed something that suggests someone like me belongs in the periphery when it comes to storytelling."
Oyelowo - who appeared in the Ugandan set biographical chess drama 'Queen of Katwe' with Lupita Nyong'o and Madina Nalwanga - will not stop championing the need for diversity on screen until he can see with his own eyes a positive change in movie making.
He added: "I think that when we are not having this conversation is when we will really know that change has come."
Back in 2016, Oyelowo bemoaned the lack of opportunities in the UK for black actors and admitted he felt he had no choice but to move to Los Angeles to further his career.
The actor - who has produced acclaimed performances in movies such as 'The Butler', 'Nightingale' and 'Lincoln' - said: "The odd token thrown, the odd bone given is not going to do it.
"Don't pat yourself on the back because you made that black drama. Bully for you. That's not diversity. It's got to be baked into the foundation of where the ideas flow from ... I felt I had to leave. Please stop this talent drain. You have to change the demographics of the people who are making these decisions."