Sophie Okonedo seems to be one of busiest actresses working
today. But according to her, things aren’t all that they seem. In fact, in a recent
interview in The Guardian (HERE), the Oscar nominated actress says that she
finds it very difficult to get acting roles in the U.K., unlike in the U.S., where she gets more opportunities.
As she says in the article: “I do notice that – over the last year – I’ve had maybe two
scripts from England and tens and tens from America. The balance is ridiculous.
I’m still struggling [in the UK] in a way that my white counterparts at the
same level wouldn’t have quite the same struggle”
She goes on to say that: “People
who started with me would have their own series by now, and I’m still fighting
to get the second lead or whatever. I think I’m at a certain level and have a
good range, so why isn’t my inbox of English scripts busting at the seams in
the same way as my American one is? There’s something amiss there.”
Interesting though Ms. Okonedo is reluctant (perhaps out
of fear of biting the hand that feeds her) to blame racism for her situation. When
asked about that, she responds by saying: “Oh,
look, I don’t know. This is why I don’t give interviews. All I know is that I
have to go across the Atlantic to get work…. I think a lot of it is [due to]
costume and period drama, which must be, what, at least 40% of what we do here?
Which means that 40% of opportunities are closed to me already.”
Though it should be pointed out that she is soon scheduled
to play King Henry IV’s widow Queen Margaret in the BBC TV “The Hollow Crown,” which
goes into production in September (HERE).
She does say however one of the big causes for the lack of
diversity in roles on television is due to the lack of diversity among TV writers: “I
think you have to start with the stories. If the writers all come from the same
backgrounds, you are going to get the same sorts of characters. Get a broader
variety of writers and you get a bigger range of stories.”
It is interesting to note that many black actors and
actresses of color in this country have made the exact same complaints that
Okonedo has made about the U.K. – so it’s a universal problem amongst black artists.
What do you say?