UPDATED February 11, 6:40 p.m. ET: Idris Elba clarified his quote to Esquire in a tweet on Saturday. He wrote, “There isn’t a soul on this earth that can question whether I consider myself a BLACK MAN or not. Being an ‘actor’ is a profession, like being an ‘architect’ ,they are not defined by race. However, If YOU define your work by your race, that is your Perogative. Ah lie?”

See original story from 2/10/2023 below.

Idris Elba had a lot to say about racism in Hollywood and how he identifies with the label of “Black actor.”

“I stopped describing myself as a Black actor when I realized it put me in a box,” the 50-year-old entertainer told Esquire. “If we spent half the time not talking about the differences but the similarities between us, the entire planet would have a shift in the way we deal with each other.”

He then described how such labels can cripple one’s ambitions: “As humans, we are obsessed with race. And that obsession can really hinder people’s aspirations, hinder people’s growth.”

He continued, “Racism should be a topic for discussion, sure. Racism is very real. But from my perspective, it’s only as powerful as you allow it to be. We’ve got to grow. We’ve got to. Our skin is no more than that: It’s just skin. Rant over.”

When asked why he pursued a career in entertainment, Elba told the outlet that he didn’t choose to be an actor because of lack of representation but because he “thought that’s a great profession and I could do a good job at it.”

“As you get up the ladder, you get asked what it’s like to be the first Black to do this or that,” Elba added. “Well, it’s the same as it would be if I were white. It’s the first time for me. I don’t want to be the first Black. I’m the first Idris.”

Elba is known for his role as Stringer Bell in The Wire, and as DCI John Luther in Luther. He’s also appeared in Beast, Three Thousand Years of Longing, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, in several Marvel films, and The Suicide Squad.

His next film is Netflix’s Luther: The Fallen Sun, a continuation of the BBC crime series. The film arrives in theaters on Feb. 24 and on the streamer on March 10.