‘Homeland’ Star Rips British Media as Racist: I Had to Go to U.S. for Acting Work

British actor David Harewood poses on the red carpet as he attends the 60th London Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2014 in London on November 30, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

British actor David Harewood, star of Homeland and Supergirl, claimed the British film industry doesn’t support black actors, which is why he had to move to the United States, contradicting a study which has found the British media vastly over-represents ethnic minorities.

In an interview released on Monday, the actor claimed that he moved to America to pursue his television career because “there just isn’t the industry to support” black actors in Britain.

“It’s been really tough here [in Britain] for me,” Harewood, told the BBC’s Joe Wicks Podcast.

Harewood said that the alleged racism experienced by actors is “a particularly different struggle” and therefore it is “very difficult to get people to acknowledge that there is a specificity to racism and how it affects people of colour in this country.”

“Racism and its effects still isn’t really understood here, and because our system is essentially a class-based system it gets swallowed up in that paradigm, as the working class will say, ‘Well, join the queue,’” the Supergirl star went on to explain.

The British actor said that before joining the cast of Homeland, he was out of work for nine months in England, which prompted his agent to tell him “you need to get to America” — despite the country so often being painted as the epicentre of anti-black racism.

“I turn my TV on in America and there’s a range of shows with black leading actors and actresses, Netflix has got lots of shows with leading black casts,” Harewood said, adding: “that’s why the major black actors in the UK leave, there just isn’t the industry to support us.”

Despite Mr Harewood’s claims of racism against black people in British media, a study from the Creative Diversity Network (CDN) found that “BAME [Black and Minority Ethnic] on-screen representation” is vastly higher than the proportion of minorities in the general population.

The CDN report found that ethnic minorities comprise 23 per cent of all on-screen roles in the UK, while only making up approximately 14 per cent of the population. The report also found that Gay people and women were also over-represented on television as well.

The BBC has been frequently criticised for posting paid internships and other openings which specifically exclude white people, or at least white people who are not from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Newsbeat is looking for a Trainee Multi-Media Journalist,” read a 2018 tweet from BBC Newsbeat.

“This is a @_CreativeAccess scheme for people from a black, Asian or non-white ethnic minority background. Know anyone who’d be suitable? Share this with them!” the broadcaster announced enthusiastically.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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