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10 October 2016

BFI reveals Naomie Harris & Thandie Newton are UK’s most prolific black actresses

New research from the BFI has revealed that Naomie Harris and Thandie Newton are the most prolific black actresses in UK film, just behind actors Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters.
Naomie Harris in Skyfall (2012)
To tie in with its Black Star season, the BFI has announced ground-breaking new research that explores the representation of black actors in UK film over the last 10 years (January 2006 – August 2016) and reveals that out of the 1,172 UK films made and released in that period, 59% (691 films) did not feature any black actors in either lead or named roles.
Further findings include:
  • Only 13% of UK films have a black actor in a leading role
  • Decade sees little change in the number of roles for black actors; only 4 black actors feature in the list of the 100 most prolific actors
  • 50% of all lead roles played by black actors are clustered in 47 films, representing less than 5% of the total number of films
  • Horror, drama and comedy films least likely to cast black actors
  • Crime, sci-fi and fantasy films most likely to cast black actors
BFI Creative Director Heather Stewart said: “Whilst we feel from what we see on screen that most UK films do not cast black actors in them, and that black actors are playing the same types of roles over and again, we now have the data to support this.
“The number of lead roles for black actors has not really changed over ten years and the types of films in which they have had leading roles suggests stereotyping. Colour-blind casting across genres does not really exist on the big screen, ultimately limiting representation. Diversity is one of the biggest issues facing film – audiences want to see the world in which we live reflected back at them.”
Thandie Newton in Run, Fatboy, Run (2007)
The data was presented at Thursdays’s (6 Oct) LFF Black Star Symposium.