“… when you don’t reflect the real world, too much talent is actually trashed. Talent is everywhere, opportunity isn’t. And talent can’t reach opportunity, unaided.” That’s how Idris Elba opened his thoughtful and passionate half-hour address to British MPs about the need of diversity in media and film, and more critically, how it can only ensure the health of the entire industry.
Speaking in Westminster to over 100 politicians, the “Beasts Of No Nation” actor shared that he went to the United States to find work because there were no opportunities for him in the U.K., and he urged the industry to take gambles, because the rewards are there.
“We need a different approach towards risk. The story of Netflix is that risk-taking delivers audiences. Let’s be honest. Too often commissioners look at diverse talent, and all they see is risk,” Elba said. “Black actors are seen as a commercial risk. Women directors are seen as a commercial risk. Disabled directors aren’t even seen at all. I used to fit tires in Dagenham; now I make films in Hollywood. And the difference between those two lives comes down to one single word — opportunity.”
While Elba’s talk addresses the U.K. industry, there is much in his speech that applies to the broader movie and television landscape. Watch his full talk below.