THE UK film and TV industry has been challenged to “put its money and practices where its mouth is” and challenge systemic racism within the industry.
Over 3,500 actors and creatives have signed an open letter calling for equal opportunity and appreciation for BAME talent at every level of the industry.
Michaela Coel, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Noel Clarke, David Oyelowo, Meera Syal, and Gurinder Chadha are among the names at the end of the letter.
White actors such as Colin Firth, Bill Nighy, and Ralph Fiennes have also signed.
While messages condemning racism and advocating for solidarity on social media may inspire hope, the UK Industry must put its money and practices where its mouth is.
The letter, which was inspired by the Black Film Collective’s recent letter to Hollywood, read: “As one extended community, we require your active engagement to tackle structural and systemic racism in our industry, in the UK and around the world.
“While messages condemning racism and advocating for solidarity on social media may inspire hope, the UK Industry must put its money and practices where its mouth is.
“A direct line can be drawn from the stories and voices that are silenced and ignored, to the discrimination and biases that are pervasive in the entertainment industry and larger society. This moment in history presents an opportunity for you to be a positive partner for change.”
It called on the industry to “banish weak excuses” for dismissing stories that do not centre around white people and not wanting to take the risk on people of colour.
It read: “There is room for more than one. You make countless projects with similar themes and storylines with white creatives.
“We know that many of our stories feel unfamiliar to you because they go against your preconceived notions of us and make you step outside your familiar world. But they are familiar to us.”
The letter pushes for the industry to “empower those who need it” and give the same opportunities to black and brown talent as is given to white.
It reads: “Hiring black and brown writers and directors is of course of great importance, but rarely is this opportunity given to black and brown independent producers.
“This is especially troubling because producers often work with multiple writers and directors.
“Supporting one producer effectively supports many black and brown professionals above and below the line.”
The letter calls on the industry to “think outside the box when looking for new talent” and actively seek diversity behind the camera as well as in front.
It continues: “Our stories and experiences can no longer be limited to being backdrops for white narratives and protagonists.
“Until we are able to show our full joy, grief, fear, history, pride and all the other myriad of emotions and experiences, then you are simply upholding the status quo and enabling a society that keeps white people comfortable in their racism and Black and Brown people perpetually dehumanised.
“Until we are allowed to make mistakes and try again like many of our white counterparts, we will never succeed in the same way.
It ends: “Your messages in support of Black Lives Matter are a first step. But after decades of enabling racism in your ranks and beyond, it is time to do more.
“If Black lives really matter to you, our stories must as well. Please help us tell the whole truth. Black and Brown lives all over the world depend on it.”