English actor and film producer Benedict Cumberbatch has apologized for calling black actors “colored” on an American talk show.
In an interview with Tavis Smiley of PBS, Cumberbatch was talking about the lack of diversity in British films, when he referred to black actors as “colored actors.”
“I think as far as colored actors go, it gets really difficult in the UK, and I think a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here [in the U.S.] than in the UK, and that’s something that needs to change,” he said.
After receiving flak from Twitter users, the majority of whom were against the offensive term, Cumberbatch called himself an “idiot” and was “devastated” over his choice of words. Cumberbatch then issued an apology to People magazine on Monday.
“I’m devastated to have caused offense by using this outmoded terminology. I offer my sincere apologies. I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done.”
“I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive. The most shaming aspect of this for me is that I was talking about racial inequality in the performing arts in the U.K. and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term.”
“I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people and to learn from my mistakes in such a public manner please be assured I have. I apologize again to anyone who I offended for this thoughtless use of inappropriate language about an issue which affects friends of mine and which I care about deeply.”
Show Racism the Red Card, an anti-racism campaign, called Cumberbatch’s colored remarks outdated, but agreed with him otherwise about highlighting the UK’s lack of black actors in the film industry.
“The lack of representation of people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds within certain industries in the UK is an issue which needs addressing, and we are pleased that Benedict has spoken out in support of more appropriate representation and of the views of actors and campaigners like Lenny Henry,” a spokesperson from Show Racism the Red Card told CNN.
“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 Show Racism the Red Card feel that the term ‘coloured’ is now outdated and has the potential to cause offence due to the connotations associated with the term and its historical usage.”
“Appropriate terminology differs from country to country; for example, we know that in some countries the term ‘coloured’ is still widely used, and that in the US the term ‘people of colour’ is quite common.”
Watch the actor’s full interview above.
SOURCE: CNN | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty