David Harewood MBE Blasts British TV For Lack Of “Strong Black Characters”

David Harewood MBE has criticised the lack of “authoritative, strong black charactersâ€? on offer for black British actors in the UK.

The actor was speaking at the premier of Homeland, a new US drama series from the minds of the Emmy-Award winning producers of 24, Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa. Harewood plays the deputy director of the CIA’s counter-terrorism team and stars alongside Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin and fellow Brit, Damian Lewis

He said: “Unfortunately there really aren’t those roles for authoritative strong black characters in this country. We just don’t write those characters, that’s a fact.

“I can remember talking to Idris [Elba – Luther, The Wire] years ago about these frustrations and he told me, I’m going to America and I kind of thought “what are you doing that for?â€?. Look at him now. He’s a huge star; he made the right decision.â€?

The British actor went on to criticise the British television industry for being less “ambitiousâ€? than its American counterpart.

“I don’t want to trash this placeâ€?, he added, “but I do think there is a lack of ambition in terms of telling a global story.

“It’s quite parochial sometimes I think. I don’t think it’s as ambitious. When you’re sitting down watching the best of American TV it is risk-taking.â€?

Harewood has received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Nelson Mandela and the late Martin Luther King and received his MBE for services to drama in the 2012 New Year Honours list.

Offering a final word of advice, Harewood said: “I would encourage particularly young black actors to get to America or to at least try and have that ambition in your back pocket.

“They do seem to embrace a more diverse palette…I think that’s sad but that’s just a fact.

“So I would encourage people to get there as quickly as they can.â€?