Freida Pinto and Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù are excited to star in Mr. Malcolm’s List, a film that is part the wave of period films starring people of color.

The two stars told Shadow and Act’s Managing Editor Trey Mangum how they are happy to challenge themselves and challenge audiences with their characters. Dìrísù, who plays the titular Mr. Malcolm, said that while he isn’t known for period pieces, his goal for his career is all about challenging himself and switching it up.

“I think that’s my ambition for my career, consistently surprise my audiences and not ever allow people to be like, ‘Oh that’s what he does,’ and also to challenge myself,” he said. “I love sharing stories and sharing experiences and I love the challenge of changing myself and learning more about experiences and environments I’m not familiar with. As performers, we get this great blessing to continue to learn and continue to absorb and I hope that what I put out into the world will be a whole range of different energies and different characters and different stories.”

Pinto, who plays Selina Dalton in the film, talked about why Mr. Malcolm’s List is so important in the ongoing conversation about diversity and inclusion, particularly when it comes to period films.

“The importance is that I feel like we’ve been excluded and not because we didn’t exist in that time but because no one wanted to tell it from our perspective and no one thought it deserved that moment to be told from our perspective,” she said. “A formula was followed for so many years…almost convincing people that we didn’t exist.”

She said that the film’s director, Emma Holly Jones, was inspired after watching Hamilton to create a film that recognized people of color in history.

“I just jumped on this opportunity because growing up, reading Jane Austen and reading literature from the time that we’ve mostly seen white actors play those parts in films and TV adaptations…it can almost make you seem like you not invited to the table, ever,” she said. “And to kind of carve our own space and walk our own path to the table and claim our spot, I think that’s what we are doing and I hope this just continues and not just get stuck in this one little moment.”

You can watch the full interview below.

Mr. Malcolm’s List, also starring Zawe Ashton, Ashley Park and Theo James, is now playing in theaters.