UK Directors of Color Also Seeking Better Opportunities in the USA
Photo Credit: S & A

UK Directors of Color Also Seeking Better Opportunities in the USA

Alrick RileyWe all are

well aware of the alleged "Great Black British Actor Invasion" here in the U.S., with UK

born and trained actors such as David Oyelowo, Idris Elba, Thandie Newton, Lenny

James, Naomi Harris, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and David Harewood among many others, winning prominent supporting and leading roles in film and TV projects in Hollywood.


asked why each of them made the move west, they’ve been all very blunt with their replies, saying that it was simply a case of there being more acting opportunities for black actors and actors of color in the USA, than

in their home country. (Though there are always roles in those endless nostalgic British period colonialist

dramas set in India or Africa when “the never set foot on the British Empire”

sort of stuff).

But now, according

to a recent article in the London Independent (here), even black and other directors of color are making the move to the U.S. for the same reason – the lack of

opportunities in the U.K.


Alrick Riley (pictured above) – who has credits on popular U.K. shows as "Death in

Paradise" and "MI-5" – made the move to the US in 2014 to further his career, and has, to

date, directed numerous episodes of long running hit shows such as "Legends," "NCIS: New Orleans," "CSI," "Person of Interest" and "Criminal


Menhaj Huda,

whose credits include "EastEnders" – which has been on British television since the mid-80’s – and "Coronation Street" – which first premiered in the UK in 1960 – has also decided

to make the move because, as he says in the article: “This year I decided to stop banging my head

against a brick wall and try America. I have an agent and manager and we are

going to start the process in LA.”


director, Udayan Prasad, who started working on television thirty years ago, and who often finds himself the only director

of color working on a TV series, adds that “… nothing seems to have changed […] What’s personally depressing is that we have not moved on at all since I

entered the industry in the 1980s. I’m completely at a loss as to why that

should be.”

According to

British comedian and actor Lenny Henry, of the 129 directors who worked on hour-long British dramas during the year, 2015, only 21 were women, two were black, and

two were Asian.


reason for this lack of diversity is simple, according to film director Arun Kumar who states: “The higher echelons of the UK television

industry, especially drama and high-end documentary are pretty much exclusively

white.” He does feel that there is “greater diversity” among executive decision makers

here in the States.

And yet, ironically, many black filmmakers here in the USA often complain about the lack of diversity among decision

makers in Hollywood; so who is right?

What do you say?

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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