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'Get Out' star responds to Samuel L. Jackson's criticism: 'I resent that I have to prove that I'm black'

Entertainment Weekly logo Entertainment Weekly 3/14/2017 Derek Lawrence
© Universal Pictures

Get Out has been a smash success since its release last month. The film from Jordan Peele, which cost less than $5 million to make, has passed the $100 million mark and currently sits at an astonishing 99 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet, it found a high-profile critic when Samuel L. Jackson criticized the decision to cast British actor Daniel Kaluuya instead of an African-American actor in the lead role. Kaluuya, who was born in London to Ugandan parents, is now voicing his frustration with having to “prove I’m black.”

In an interview with GQ, Kaluuya, who stars as Chris in the thriller about a black photographer meeting his white girlfriend’s parents, responded to the comments from Jackson, whom he describes as having “done a lot so that we can do what we can do.”

“When I’m around black people, I’m made to feel ‘other’ because I’m dark-skinned,” he said. “I’ve had to wrestle with that, with people going ‘You’re too black.’ Then I come to America, and they say, ‘You’re not black enough.’ I go to Uganda, I can’t speak the language. In India, I’m black. In the black community, I’m dark-skinned. In America, I’m British. Bro!”

Kaluuya went on to reference the racism that he and other black people have experienced in England, including police violence similar to events that have taken place in the U.S.

“I really respect African-American people. I just want to tell black stories,” he continued. “This is the frustrating thing, bro — in order to prove that I can play this role, I have to open up about the trauma that I’ve experienced as a black person. I have to show off my struggle so that people accept that I’m black. No matter that every single room I go to, I’m usually the darkest person there. You know what I’m saying? I kind of resent that mentality. I’m just an individual.”

Last week, while promoting Kong: Skull Island on New York radio station Hot 97, Jackson wondered if Get Out would have benefited from an African-American in the lead role.

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“There are a lot of black British actors that work in this country. All the time,” he said. “I tend to wonder what would that movie have been with an American brother who really understands that in a way. Because Daniel grew up in a country where they’ve been interracial dating for a hundred years. Britain, there’s only about eight real white people left in Britain. … So what would a brother from America made of that role? I’m sure the director helped. Some things are universal, but everything ain’t.”

Kaluuya concluded, “I see black people as one man… I resent that I have to prove that I’m black. I don’t know what that is. I’m still processing it.”

Read his full interview at GQ.

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