David Oyelowo tearfully discussed racism he and his family have faced in a moving video he shared via Instagram on Thursday.
The Selma star, 44, detailed his experiences with discrimination as he told fans how he has felt since the death of George Floyd last week after Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
Admitting recent weeks ‘have been impossibly difficult’, David said: ‘In a bid to pull myself out of the hole I have been in I’ve tried to look to the future, the future that my children will step into, but in a bid to do that I have had to look at the past.’
‘Let the future not be the same for my son as it has been for my dad’: David Oyelowo tearfully discussed the racism his family has faced in an impassioned video he shared on Thursday
Discussing what his father Stephen went through in the 60s David went on: ‘When he arrived in the UK people would check for his tail to see if he had one, he had coffee thrown in his face, hot coffee, he was spat at, he couldn’t rent a place to live because it was “No Blacks, No Irish, No dogs”.
‘He would tell me these stories and they felt like something relegated to the past, something that we had moved on from, I stepped into a future that I determined was going to be different.’
David said his father wasn’t supportive of his dream of being an actor at first as he was scared of the discrimination he’d face, but ‘was proud’ when the actor was cast as the King of England in a play with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
However, at that time David was forced to deal with instances of discrimination as he had to have ‘people who were having to sift through my fan mail because I was getting so much hate mail for playing that role.’
Moving: The Selma star detailed his experiences with discrimination as he told fans how he has felt since the death of George Floyd last week, as he broke down in tears discussing his funeral
Shocking: Detailing what his father Stephen went through in the 60s in the UK, David detailed the horrifying incidents where people ‘would check for his tail’ and threw coffee in his face
‘We eventually left the UK because to be perfectly frank it was a challenge being a black person in my industry there at that time,’ David went on. ‘But being someone who is optimistic I felt “you know what let’s keep moving forward”.
‘I am going to build on what my dad gave me, on the opportunities the UK gave me, move to America and then played Dr King in Selma, which was an amazing moment for me.
‘And then got attacked for playing that role whilst being married to a white woman, and that became a whole other challenge to face, again along these racial lines.’
Reflecting on recent events, he added: ‘This is not like losing ones life like George Floyd, but I am trying to let you guys know who have reached out to me asking how I am just what it is we black people face, and you may not always know.’
Struggle: David said his father wasn’t supportive of his dream of being an actor at first as he was scared of the discrimination he’d face, and the actor admitted he has received hate mail
Candid: ‘We eventually left the UK because to be perfectly frank it was a challenge being a black person in my industry there at that time,’ David went on
David also explained that his film Selma was snubbed at the Oscars because he and his cast mates wore “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts to protest the death of Eric Garner in 2014 when he was put in a chokehold by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Saying that there were Academy members who were against ‘actors stirring s***’, he added that they questioned why the cast ‘had the audacity to be protesting when all they are is actors’ and said they would not vote for the film.
Going on to relay the discrimination his brother, who is a healthcare provider, has faced, David shared his dismay because the ‘same people who were telling him to go back to where he came from are now applauding him for being a healthcare provider during a pandemic.’
David went on: ‘So, you feel you have these moments of progress, I look at my dad and go well things are better now than they were then, but you constantly get slapped in the face with the reality that things are essentially the same.
Protest: David also explained his film Selma was snubbed at the Oscars because he and his cast mates wore ‘I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts to protest the death of Eric Garner in 2014 (pictured)
Experience: Saying that there were Academy members who were against ‘actors stirring s***’, he added that they questioned why the cast ‘had the audacity to be protesting’
‘The thing that has really brutalised me this week has been watching my eldest son, who graduated last week.
‘I’ll be honest with you I was walking past his bedroom and I heard sobbing and I went in to see my son and he was broken because he didn’t quite understand the world he had graduated into, and I couldn’t give him any comfort.
‘We had the talk about how to interact with the police here in America, but George Floyd wasn’t resisting arrest, Amy Cooper decided to weaponise the police against a bird watcher in New York.
‘We are not safe, and even though I am an optimistic person I now look to my son having watched my father suffer what he suffered, some of what I have faced, there is so much more I could tell you of what I have faced.
Honest: David shared his dismay over his brother’s experience as a healthcare provider as the ‘same people who were telling him to go back to where he came from are now applauding him’
Emotional: Of his family, David said ‘the thing that has really brutalised me this week has been watching my eldest son… I heard sobbing and I went in to see my son and he was broken’
‘But I want world where my son doesn’t have to face those things, so I am just recording this having just watched George Floyd’s funeral.’
Becoming tearful David took a moment to compose himself, before saying: ‘Where everyone was asked to be silent for eight minutes and 46 seconds and that is such a long time, that is such a long time to have a man’s knee on your neck.
‘Please let the future not be the same for my son as it has been for my dad, for me, and for so many black people over the centuries. So my friends reaching out to me saying how are you doing, I’m not doing great.’
David then concluded the video by asking his followers to ‘link arms’ and ‘try to go into a future that is better than the past that we have had to endure’, and said: ‘Black people didn’t create this situation we find ourselves in, it therefore can’t be on us to change it. It’s going to be down to all of us.’
Father: David said he ‘couldn’t give any comfort’ to his son Asher, 18, as he cried over recent events, and added ‘please let the future not be the same for my son as it has been for my dad’
In tears: When talking about George Floyd’s funeral David became tearful and took a moment to compose himself
In the caption for the moving video David told viewers that it was eight minutes and two seconds long, and added: ‘Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck for another 44 seconds longer than that. Think about that.’
Meanwhile in an interview with
Of why this should be the case, David said: ‘BAFTA cannot be like the Golden Globes and everything else, just a precursor, and therefore a self-fulfilling prophecy – basically a road trip for Hollywood to hit London on the way to the Oscars.’
‘We have a very specific identity as the British film industry that should be independent [of the Oscars].
‘That’s something to also be thinking about in this moment: who are we as the British film industry, not just a stop on the way to the Oscars.’
Claiming that the Grammys stand separate to other awards shows like the MOBO awards, he implored the BAFTAs to change the date of the event so that it wasn’t the ‘poor cousin’ of the Oscars.
Make a change: Meanwhile in an interview with Screen Daily David urged the British film industry to carve out its own identity that was separate from the Oscars (pictured in October)