The recent announcement of this year’s Oscar nominees proved yet again that American award shows too often miss the mark when it comes to a fair representation of Black actors, directors, and ensembles. But, despite a series of already-notorious Selma snubs by the Oscar committee, British actor Benedict Cumberbatch recently spoke on the issue of race in Hollywood and claimed that Black actors from Britain are better off here than in the U.K. (Try telling that to Selma lead David Oyelowo.)
Cumberbatch, who got his own Oscar nod for his lead role in The Imitation Game, offered some comments about a lack of diversity in Britain specifically, and explained why he thinks the U.S. is a better space for Black actors from across the pond.
““I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here [in the US] than in the UK and that’s something that needs to change,” he said while appearing on The Tavis Smiley Show. “Something’s gone wrong, we’re not representative enough in our culture of different races and that really does need to step up a pace.”
In a couple of sentences, Cumberbatch drew both praise and criticism for the comments, the latter in the form of backlash against his use of the term “coloured” while calling for greater diversity. One of the leading voices that chimed in from Britain was a charity called Show Racism The Red Card.
“Benedict Cumberbatch has highlighted a very important issue within the entertainment industry and within society,” a spokesperson for the charity told The Independent. “In doing so, he has also inadvertently highlighted the issue of appropriate terminology and the evolution of language. Show Racism the Red Card feel that the term ‘coloured’ is now outdated and has the potential to cause offense due to the connotations associated with the term and its historical usage.”