He also compares his character to J. Cole.
After getting nearly unanimous praise from critics on its way to making $100 million on a $4.5 million budget, Get Out seems like an invincible cultural force. Then came Samuel L. Jackson, an unlikely critic who took issue with the fact that the film used British actor Daniel Kaluuya instead of an African American actor.
Ironically, Jackson hadn’t even seen the film yet when he made the criticism. He said, “because Daniel grew up in a country where, you know, they’ve been interracially dating for a hundred years… So what would a brother from America have made of that role?” John Boyega, another black British actor, quickly weighed in.
In a recent interview with GQ, Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya has responded to Jackson’s criticism. The entire interview is centered on Kaluuya’s (who comes from a Ugandan family and was born and raised in the UK) blackness. He makes sure to pay tribute to Samuel L. Jackson for being a trailblazer for black actors, but then explains his perspective in depth:
“I’m dark skinned bro. When I’m around black people I’m made to feel “other” because I’m dark-skinned. I’ve had to wrestle with that, with people going ‘you’re too black.’ Then I come to America and they say, “you’re not black enough.” I got to Uganda, I can’t speak the language. In India, I’m black. In the black community, I’m dark-skinned. In America, I’m British. Bro!
[Black People in the UK], the people who are the reason I’m even about to have a career, had to live in a time where they went looking for housing and signs would say, “NO IRISH. NO DOGS. NO BLACK.” That’s reality. Police would round up all these black people, get them in the back of a van, and wrap them in blankets so their bruises wouldn’t show when they beat them. That’s the history that London has gone through.”
Kaluuya remains empathetic to Jackson’s perspective though, acknowledging the fears of having a foreigner tell your story:
“Let me say, I’m not trying to culture-vulture the thing. I empathize. That script spoke to me. I’ve been to Ugandan weddings, and funerals, and seen that cousin bring a white girl. That’s a thing in all communities. I really respect African American people. I just want to tell black stories.
That’s the frustrating thing, bro – in order to prove that I can play this role, I have to open up about the trauma I’ve experienced as a black person. I have to show off my struggle so that people accept that I’m black. No matter that ever single room I go to I’m usually the darkest person there….I resent that I have to prove that I’m black.”
Later on in the interview, Kaluuya likens his character to J. Cole because "[Chris] feels like an everyman... Chris is that guy that everyone knows who has been in everyone's class at school. That good guy from around the area." What do y'all think of Kaluuya's assessment?