Why the Subsequent James Bond Ought to Be a Black British Actor

Picture Sources: Getty / Stefania D’Alessandro, Jeff Spicer

James Bond is among the most iconic and broadly recognized characters to ever grace the movie trade. The suave undercover agent, created within the Nineteen Fifties by British author Ian Fleming, has via the many years turn into the epitome of appeal. Since 1962, seven males have portrayed Bond on the large display screen. And up till now, all of them have been British — and white.

When Daniel Craig introduced his retirement from the position in 2021, rumors started to swell about who could be the subsequent Bond. Producer Michael G. Wilson has alluded to caveats: the subsequent Bond must be younger sufficient to signal on to a decade-long dedication; the actor must be British; and he must be a person.

Now, the Bond franchise has a weighty alternative: it might make a Black British man the subsequent Bond. It might not solely be an essential step ahead by way of on-screen illustration — it might assist the entire world see what being Black British actually means.

If one of the vital globally acknowledged British characters is performed by a Black man, possibly the entire world will start to know the idea of the Black British identification.

A number of high-profile Black British actors have been floated for the position: Idris Elba, Regé-Jean Web page, Damson Idris. Nonetheless, for a lot of, Elba stays on the high of the checklist to play agent 007. Although Elba has distanced himself from the role, a current research revealed that he is the UK’s top choice to switch Craig, with Tom Hardy and Tom Hiddleston following in second and third place.

For me, Elba looks as if probably the most befitting selection of the Black British actors rumored to tackle the position. Millennials like myself see Bond as extra mature — somebody who’s effortlessly charming, witty, and good-looking. Elba, for a lot of Black Brits, embodies the “cool uncle” trope. He is the one within the household who’s all the time well-dressed, has a gorgeous associate himself, and sneaks you a $20 invoice when your dad and mom aren’t trying.

However even when Elba is not the subsequent Bond, any Black British actor could be a momentous selection. Significantly in British TV and movie, there’s an overrepresentation of a particular sort of Black male character: one who’s often linked to gang tradition, drug-selling, and different illicit habits. Like many different individuals I do know, I am keen on British TV collection and movies like “Blue Story,” “High Boy,” and “Kidulthood.” However most of the foremost characters reinforce destructive stereotypes, all to various levels. Positive, we’re seeing a little bit of a shift lately with TV collection like “The Seize” and the Christmas rom-com “Boxing Day.” However nonetheless, even at the moment, most of the depictions of Black males within the UK are destructive — and most of the Black males in my life really feel like such portrayals solely flatten their experiences and contribute to the racial stereotyping they take care of each day.

In 2020, identical to in the USA, Black Lives Matter protests overtook London after the homicide of George Floyd. However right here, additionally they gave rise to many conversations about what it means to be Black British. Many people expressed how our British identification is questioned due to our pores and skin coloration — virtually as if our British identification should be synonymous with white pores and skin.

That is why this second is so essential. If one of the vital globally acknowledged British characters is performed by a Black man, possibly the entire world will start to know the idea of the Black British identification.

To me, this identification is a merging of British, African, and Caribbean cultures coming collectively as one. Our dialect and the music we hearken to mirror this; they embrace Caribbean and African cultural references and language. However for the many people who had been born and raised in Britain, we additionally inherently relate to British tradition. We too crave a full English breakfast after an evening out, get the moment urge to sing alongside to Oasis’s “Wonderwall” each time we hear it, and sure, get pleasure from ingesting tea (but it surely’s not all we drink!).

Nonetheless, the “British” a part of “Black British” is usually solid apart by non-Black Brits. Perhaps that is why Star Wars actor John Boyega lately expressed doubt that the subsequent James Bond could be Black. And I’ve to say to a sure extent I agree — particularly when you think about the racist backlash that Lashana Lynch acquired when it was introduced again in 2020 that she could be the primary Black feminine 007. That solely strengthened what we all know to be true: that so many individuals refuse to acknowledge Black individuals as British, whether or not subconsciously or overtly.

I am sure that the information of a Black man being solid to play the subsequent Bond could be met with reward inside the Black neighborhood throughout the UK and the USA. On the similar time, it could be naïve to imagine that having one Black man in such a preferred position will create some type of instantaneous shift in the way in which Black males are represented in TV and movie. We all know that one character will not dissolve tons of of years of racism, bigotry, and systemic inequities. And we all know that every one Black individuals going about their lives in Britain — extra so than well-known, rich actors — deal with that legacy each single day.

However we are able to maintain each realities as true: {that a} Black James Bond could be an enormous step, and that the trail to true equality continues to be a lot longer.

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