David Oyelowo turns down 'about 80 percent' of acting roles to avoid perpetuating Black stereotypes

Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo feels very responsible for the roles he plays.
"I live my life from the perspective," I have to be part of the solution, not the problem, "the actor told Access Hollywood on Tuesday. "I think one of the privileges that I don't have is just playing any role I want because I know certain roles maintain stereotypes and mindsets that people have about blacks, what for all of that, what we’re talking about isn’t helpful… I reject about 80 percent of what gets in my way because I understand the power of storytelling and images on culture. "
David Oyelowo feels great pressure when choosing the roles. (Photo: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images)
Some roles are more important than others. For example, the actor said he felt compelled to play Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 2014 film Selma.
“I felt called to do so by God. I was rejected by the original director, and there were four other directors before Lee Daniels came and occupied me. And we still couldn't make the film. It was a seven year trip and so I just had the moment: "OK sir, if you tell me, you just have to equip me. I will do the job."
David Oyelowo says Oscar voters scolded "Selma" after the cast wore "I Can't Breathe" shirts in memory of Eric Garner
Ava DuVernay's Martin Luther King Jr. drama “Selma” was one of the top-rated films of 2014, yet only received two Oscar nominations: Best Film and Best Original Title. The Academy's failure to recognize DuVernay in the Best Director category and actors like David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo is part of the reason why #OscarsSoWhite went viral when nominations for the 2015 Oscars were announced. In a new interview with Screen Daily, Oyelowo reveals that one reason why 'Selma' was rejected by Academy voters was the backlash against 'Selma' cast and crew for being 'I Can' in New York City t Breathe T-shirts premiered.
Oyelowo's theory that his role choice is important was confirmed when he was driving with a black police officer in Los Angeles as he was preparing to play an officer in the film Don't Let Go in 2019.
"He thanked me for some of the films that I make because, unfortunately, he told many of my white colleagues that their assessment of what an interaction with a black person might look like was based on films and television that they see," said Oyelowo. "And so these pictures are whatever they are, if that tells you how you see black people, then what I do for a living is life or death for some people."
Oyelowo's next roles include boxing legend Sugar Ray Robinson in the biography of Sweet Thunder and the President of the United States in Showtime's adaptation of James Patterson and President Bill Clinton's novel The President Is Missing.
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