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Black Actors Need To Be ‘Flawless’ To Feel Recognized, Ncuti Gatwa Says

As the first Black lead in ‘Doctor Who,’ Gatwa talks about the extra pressure Black actors face.

Ncuti Gatwa claims it is quite hard for Black actors to get the same recognition as their white peers in Hollywood.

Gatwa believes that Black actors have to be perfect in their roles to get noticed. He recently told Attitude that white actors can be less than perfect and still receive plenty of praise:

“We’re trained to be like, ‘If I’m not exceptional, I won’t be loved.’ Certainly, I think that was my thing. So, yeah, I think I’m just learning now like, ‘Oh, you are allowed to be loved.’ You don’t have to be excellent or aspire to that term, ‘Black excellence.’ What the hell? There’s so much white mediocrity that gets celebrated, and Black people, we have to be absolutely flawless to get half of [that] anyway.”

He says he wants to feel valued just for being himself, not just for being successful in his roles.

Gatwa is the First Black Doctor

Gatwa also opened up about the criticism he received when he first got the role in ‘Doctor Who.’ The actor noticed that not everyone was happy about his casting, but he sees changes happening in the industry:

“The hate? It is kind of fascinating to me because there’s so much energy they’re putting into it. … I think they need to go find a hobby is one thing. But another thing is that we do see a shift happening in casting, in positions of power, and in the status quo. I mean, not a fast shift, things could tip over the other way a little bit quicker, but you see people kind of malfunctioning because things are changing.”

Gatwa says that ‘Doctor Who’ will include stories that deal with race. He also took a moment to recognize Jo Martin, who was the first Black actor to play a version of the Doctor. Her role was not as the lead character, though.

Gatwa’s first season as the Doctor will begin airing on Disney+ on May 10, 2024.

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