If in 2018 he left empty-handed despite the popularity of Let me out Everything seems to indicate that this time Daniel Kaluuya will have his dreamed Oscar. And it is that the British son of Ugandan immigrants began a triumphant streak at the Golden Globes, where he was crowned best supporting actor, as happened with the Batfa and the Actors Guild Award. The only one who could perhaps snatch the statuette from him is Paul Raci, but Kaluuya has an extra advantage, and that is that his character in Judas and the black messiah is the engine of the story directed by Shaka King. Curiously, LaKeith Stanfield, who in the film plays the man forced by the FBI to spy on the black leader, will be one of his rivals.
What did you learn about militancy playing Fred Hampton?
I confirmed something that I always believed in: you have to start small and local, and then keep growing. The power of local communities and small gestures is what will allow you to build something bigger. Unity also empowers you. The key is to find common values in people who apparently do not have any affection. What Fred Hampton did with the Rainbow Coalition was impressive. He knew how to unite the Young Lords and the Young Patriots, and then add the whites and Chicago Hispanics and the Black Panthers.
When was the first time you raised your voice to fight an injustice?
I have always done things in the community where I grew up. If the police stopped my friends to check on them, I always stayed there, watching that they left safely.
What did you know about the Black Panthers before joining this project?
I learned something in school when I studied the civil rights movement in America. They told us a lot about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, but in a shallow, superficial way. And they only explained the story of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers very above. I didn’t really know much when I got out of school, but I was very interested and educated myself. I spoke to many people and I remember very well the moment when I learned that the FBI had a mandate to eliminate the black messiah. It was something that shocked me a lot. I found it very crazy that they were so specific in their directives. I was always very curious, and this movie has given me the opportunity to introduce the story of President Fred while learning about him.
How was the experience working with Shaka King?
It was a great collaboration. He is an amazing director. Every time I asked him a question or had a doubt, he took the time to clarify them in detail. And when he finished a new version of the script, I gave him suggestions and comments, and he was enthusiastic about my opinions. We had a great dialogue during the preparation of the film. He gave me the texts that those who wanted to join the Black Panthers had to study for six weeks. It was a very valuable source of information to prepare my character. And throughout the filming he gave me a lot of advice so I felt very safe with him. Also, as I watched him work, I realized how talented he is.
African American stories
“They are a reflection of the boredom we feel, it is time to speak up and say enough”
Does it surprise you that Hollywood has finally thrown itself into telling African-American stories?
Not necessarily. But it is obvious that something is happening, that we have already tolerated too much and that there is a new social conscience. When the George Floyd murder happened, to all of us who worked at Judas and the black messiah We were surprised that most of the people in this country felt the same way we do. And while this movie reflects how many people are feeling in this particular moment in America, and shows the words, thoughts, ideas, and strategies needed to deal with all of this, it is simply one of many stories to be found. have been able to tell this year, and that they are a reflection of the boredom we feel, because it has already been enough and it is time to speak and say that enough is enough.
“I am very clear that I would not have been able to have this career ten years ago.
Do you feel that you are part of a historic moment in Hollywood?
Yes, totally. I am fully aware of what is happening and I am very grateful. I am very clear that I could not have had this career ten years ago, and that is the result of the incredible work that people like Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and Samuel Jackson have done, all wonderful artists who have kicked open doors, and the same goes for Sidney Poitier. It’s like it’s a relay race and someone has passed the torch to me. I hope I can pass it on to a new generation that will have grown up in a different way than mine. I am very privileged to be able to be part of this moment.
What do you think has been the key to this breakthrough for black actors?
Being a united force is what is essential in a diaspora, because it is what helps us all. That is why I do not pay attention or dedicate my time to any kind of division within the black community. It’s not healthy. Those are values that President Fred and the Black Panthers also had. I believe that unity is essential among the one billion blacks that inhabit the world.
What moments in your career are you most proud of?
My passage through Skins it was something very special. I’m still close friends with my co-stars and the crew on that show. Before the pandemic we all met at Christmas. Black Mirror It meant a big change for me, there I learned that I had to do projects that seemed important to me. It helped me to realize how I wanted my career to be from now on. A play I did at the Royal Court Theater, Sucker Punch it was very moving and the reason I got the part in Black Mirror . Turn by Black Mirror I got the role in Let me out , which was the movie that changed my life …
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“Unity is essential for the billion blacks that inhabit the world”