Idris Elba Faces Backlash After Defending Straight Actors Getting Cast As Gay Characters

On August 12, The Sun revealed that British comedian Jack Whitehall would be playing Disney's first openly gay character, a "hugely effete, very camp, and very funny" supporting role in Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt's Jungle Cruise, based on the Disney ride of the same name.

Whitehall's casting was already somewhat controversial since he is not, in fact, a gay man. Some critics called Disney out for missing the opportunity to cast an actor with the appropriate sexuality in their first major LGBTQ role. Idris Elba was asked about Whitehall's new part, and decided to insert himself into the wrong side of the conversation.


Speaking to TimeOut London, Elba commented that anyone should be allowed to play a gay character:

Artistic license is artistic license. If an actor has the attributes to do something, they should be able to do it," he said. "They're acting. You don't necessarily have to be gay to play a gay character."

He then added:

Though you do have to be black to play a black character.

Many are now calling out Elba for his hypocrisy:



While being a member of the LGBTQ community is not the same as being black, both groups are minorities who deserve to see themselves represented accurately onscreen by actual members of their community.


The argument that LGBTQ actors "get to" play straight actors all the time and, thus, the reverse should be acceptable doesn't pass muster. It ignores the fact that the vast majority of roles are straight characters, though surely many LGBTQ actors would love a part that matches with their sexuality, and that cis-gendered people hold more power and privilege in our culture. The power dynamics at play when representing a member of the majority vs. representing a a minority are very different.


This isn't the first time straight actors have been called upon to play LGBTQ individuals, and it's not the first time people have been angry about it.


Jungle Cruise premieres on October 11, 2019.



H/T - Essence, The Sun

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