Nathalie Emmanuel has opened up about the barriers to entry for Black actors within the British film industry.
In an interview with Essence to promote F9, Emmanuel talked about how Britain’s movie industry still hasn’t fully welcomed Black actors in the way it has white actors.
“The British industry hasn’t always embraced us, and I think so many Black and mixed people like myself have come out to America because the opportunities just weren’t here for us,” she said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “And unfortunately, what’s happened is that a lot of Black talent has been lost to the States.”
Emmanuel wants Britain to be able to retain its Black talent, but the industry isn’t listening and responding in the same way Hollywood is.
“It’s not like we hadn’t been calling for thos for many years,” she said. “It was just falling on dead ears…I think, frankly, that the US has so much more opportunity for epole of all kinds of backgrounds, and all kinds of like people. The industry is bigger so there’s more being made, and there’s kind of space for more people.”
She also commented on what it’s like to be a role model for younger Black viewers, particularly younger Black girls.
“It’s always really heartwarming when I have someone come up to me and they say, ‘Oh, my daughter, she hated her hair, she hated her skin, she hated these things about herself, and then she shaw you. And then, she now like, loves herself,” she said. “…It literally makes me want to cry because I was that little girl, so the fact that I can be that for someone else is lovely.”
Proper representation has been a huge part of Emmanuel’s career. She showed her commitment to representation in 2019 when she spoke out against fans “fancasting” her as Princess Tiana if a live-action Princess and the Frog movie was ever made. “Nah that part has to go to an even more melanated sister,” she tweeted, alluding to the colorism that would be at play if she played Tiana, who has been portrayed as a darker-skinned woman.
F9 is currently in theaters.