You may have noticed that Brit Noel Clarke has been oddly silent about the black-actors-in-the-UK-film-industry problem, broadly-speaking; a matter that we’ve covered quite a bit here on S&A, highlighting articles written by British journalists, lamentations from black British actors and actresses on the lack of opportunities for them to utilize their talents, and more.
It actually didn’t hit me until now – that we haven’t posted anything here on S&A from Clarke on the issue that several of his contemporaries in the UK have repeadtedly decried, and continue to criticize.
I was reading THIS summary of a recent interview Clarke did with 1Xtra’s Ace on the MTV UK website in which he addressed the matter; the original interview is in audio form but not available for listeners outside the UK, though I wish I had access to it so I could listen to it in full. Alas, I do not.
In short, Clark, whose prolific career we’ve been following on S&A, as not just an actor, but also a writer, director, producer, and even playwright, certainly doesn’t appear to be experiencing much drag. Quite the opposite actually.
And in the interview, in which the words “misconceptions of the acting industry” were included, the reader should immediately be tipped off as to the direction the interview would take, as Clarke had this to say, alluding to the aforementioned multi-tasking he’s been doing as key to his success: “If I did not multitask, if I did not write, direct and act, I would be homeless right now. I’m telling you, the work’s not there… I realised early on in my acting career, when I was borrowing money from my girl to get a travel card, I was like, ‘Hold on a second! If I don’t start doing more stuff, I’m going to be living on the street.’ So it was a necessity. I HAD to start writing, I HAD to start doing other stuff just to keep my head above water.”
So essentially, he agrees that the work certainly isn’t there; however, he’s also suggesting that his black Brit actor/actress comrades in the UK (or maybe all actors/actresses regardless of skin color or heritage) shouldn’t rely strictly on their acting abilities to survive in the business; they must also become writers, directors, producers, etc; create work for themselves, as opposed to relying primarily on others to give them pre-packaged projects to act in.
Easier said than done of course, but I suppose he can say it with confidence because he’s living it, and not just talking it.
But interestingly, we can say the same thing about black actors/actresses here in the USA; the most recent notable example is Viola Davis taking advantage of the spotlight she’s found herself in, forming a production company, optioning books, teaming up with young, promising directors for TV projects, and more. She’s creating work for herself.
Idris Elba is one black Brit who’s also living by Clarke’s credo; Elba not only acts, but he’s produced work for himself, taking chances with unproven talent, as he did with Thomas Ikimi and Legacy, and even in the case of Luther, before he became the IDRIS ELBA we all know and love today. He’s also producing projects for others – films, web series and TV. And he has a project or two on the horizon that he’s planning to direct himself as well.
Multi-tasking. It’s not enough just to be one thing anymore I guess; especially if you’re not from a group that’s, shall we say, *in demand.* But not everyone can be a Noel Clarke or Idris Elba, right?
I’m sure all you actors out there – especially those in the UK – will have something to say about all this.
Clarke also reiterated his plans to produce a UK version of Bad Boys, which he co-wrote with Top Boy’s Ashley Walters (another black Brit who also seems to be doing far better than others).
“When I’m back from the US and he [Ashley Walters] finishes ‘Top Boy’ season two, we have a script that we wrote together with a couple of my boys and it’s looking good. We’re talking a UK ‘Bad Boys’,” he said.
He’s shooting Star Trek 2, which is why he says “when I’m back from the US;” and Top Boy season 2 is scheduled to air this year, so if this Bad Boys take is next for them, as he seems to suggest, they could be looking at late 2012, early 2013 production dates, provided the money is already there, and if not, will be there by then.