Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Class system insidious - Oyelowo

David Oyelowo stars as an MI5 agent in new Channel 4 drama Complicit

Spooks star David Oyelowo has complained that working class actors still hit a "glass ceiling" in Britain.

The 36-year-old, who was born in Oxford to Nigerian parents and now lives in Los Angeles, said Britain was not as forward thinking as people liked to think and that the class system was "insidious".

Since making the move to Hollywood six years ago, David's credits have included Tom Cruise movie Jack Reacher and Steven Spielberg's Oscar-nominated Lincoln.

The actor lived with his parents on a north London council estate before hitting the headlines in 2001, playing Henry VI for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He told the Radio Times: "There are all kinds of opportunities there (in the US) - I can play civil rights activists, I can play fighter pilots, I can be in a film like Lincoln. But it's not just to do with being black.

"It's also about the scope of the industry. Judi Dench has to go to America, Ralph Fiennes has to go to America, because it's the zenith of our industry. And it feels genuinely meritocratic."

The Last King Of Scotland star added: "America has its own class system, but it's about money. The more money you have, the higher up the ladder you are.

"Here, you can have talent and money and still be deemed working class. That means there are certain glass ceilings.

"So the world in which we could have a black prime minister feels eons away. We like to think we are as progressive, as forward thinking, as America, but it's this class system that feeds into everything. It's very insidious."

David played officer Danny Hunter in Spooks and is set to star as an MI5 agent in new Channel 4 feature-length drama Complicit.

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