Luke King is a young British actor currently living in the Harrow area, and he is about to embark on what could be a life-changing journey, State side. Like many young black British actors, he feels the lure of Hollywood and its infinite possibilities.
Luke took a couple of minutes out of his busy schedule to chat to our very own Edward Lauder about his upcoming move to LA and his experiences as a black British actor working in the UK.
“It’s very difficult for any actor starting out in the industry. There are more roles for black actors in America, as it is the largest global market. There are many reasons for this ranging from the size of the country and the history of the US in terms of race relations and a need to almost make reparations”, Luke shares when asked about David Oyelowo’s recent comments about black actor’s struggles to secure big roles in the UK.
He continues: “In the UK there are not as many roles for black or other ethnic minority actors on some projects due to the nature of the narrative. For example it would be very difficult to factor in a black actor in Downtown Abbey, due to the socio-historical context of the project.”
Luke goes on to talk about his move to the US, and why it may benefit his career: “I have many short-term, mid and long term plans, but a move to LA was in them no matter how long it took. I think as a performer you have to weigh up the probability of success. If you feel that you will be more successful by making the move abroad, then it must be done.”
“It was my decision to make the move and one that has been a couple of years in the making. I also felt that it was important if I wanted longevity in this industry to be working in both the US and UK industry,” he adds.
“There are roles to be had as a black actor in the UK, however mostly in television; there is a slight stereotypical misrepresentation. Many young black actors find themselves constantly playing street gang type characters in television and film,” Luke says about his personal experience getting roles in the UK.
“Now that’s not to say that it is an gross socio-cultural inaccuracy, but it is not representing the various roles that many black people occupy, for example lawyers, scientists and doctors. I feel that there needs to be a representation of more positive black characters in productions.”
When asked about his current project, his reply is quick and succinct: “I recently finished a short film called Past Purgatory, where I played a menacing, emotionally volatile character of Nathan. The short is based on a true story and is being entered into film festivals across the country.”
And does Luke have any roles lined up in the holy grail that is Hollywood? His answer is optimistically cautious: “I have a couple of potential projects lined up but, due to the confidential nature of the production, I can’t really say any more than that.”
“I have meetings with agencies, with a view to signing and a few workshops with casting directors. I don’t like to talk too much about projects until I have completed them as it enables me to focus and make sure that they are successful.”
Asking Luke if he had any role models in the industry, he replies: “Idris Elba, because his style of acting is very natural and incredibly believable. Whether he is playing Nelson Mandela or the complex DCI John Luther, he seems to be able to deliver convincing portrayals of characters.”
Even after all the fame and all the glory, a move back to the homeland would never be off the cards for Luke: “One thing I can guarantee is that I will be back performing in the UK industry and the move to LA will enable me to be a stronger, better informed actor.”