Queen & Slim is set to hit theaters Thanksgiving weekend and considering it’s a movie about Black Americans fleeing the police after an officer is killed, naturally the topic of the stars’ nationality would come up.
The flick stars British actors Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith, who play two fictional Black Americans in Cleveland. Various British actors have taken on roles that were specifically American, including Cynthia Erivo in Harriet and David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 2014’s Selma. It’s even caused some controversy with folks like Samuel L. Jackson questioning whether Black Brits should be taking on so many American roles when the Black American experience is very unique.
Kaluuya and Turner-Smith have an answer to this thanks to an interview with Shadow and Act. Kaluuya explained:
“For me, yeah. It does come into consideration because I don’t want to look disrespectful to a culture. I’m not really in the business of that. If I feel like I’m stepping over a line, I just won’t entertain it. It’s not for me. And then if something comes my way, and I’m given an opportunity, [I] interrogate why people want me to be a part of it, interrogate why I want to do it, and if those reasons align, I’ll step in. And if people project attitudes towards it, I’ve just got to hold it, and go, ‘That’s how you feel.’ But I feel I know why I’m doing this. And I just gotta keep in that space.”
“I think the objective [is] always to tell the truth…that is always the quest. And in doing Queen & Slim, for me, I wanted to bring honor to this woman’s story and who this woman was and bring honor to the experience of being Black in America. And while I might not be born here, I am a Black person in America and I’ve been in America for a very long time. I felt like this was a conversation I wasn’t afraid to step in, but I was stepping into it with the utmost reverence for the story.”
“And I think that as a community, we should all be able to play all of each other in the diaspora. We are having simultaneous experiences all over the world, that are so connected and so the same. My family is Jamaican. We were just the slaves that were dropped off over there. And at the end of the day when you live and exist as a Black person in America, at least to white society, to a certain extent, no one is asking where you’re from and where you were born.”
Turner-Smith finished off by saying:
“And while I do realize there are definitely moments and an ‘othering’ that happens….especially in America where this kind of Black is better or more acceptable than another…that is something that is projected on us by non-Black communities, it is not something that we are projecting onto each other. It is beautiful to be able to do a film like this to bring honor to that community, and I look forward to seeing more Black American actors playing roles where they play British.”
What do you think of Kaluuya and Turner-Smith’s comments? You can check out Queen & Slim when it reaches theaters on November 27.