Top Boy Ashley Waters

British rapper-turned-actor Ashley Walters recently sat down with The Independent to discuss the return of his hit series, Top Boy, and why so many Black actors have left merry old England to pursue careers in America…and why he hasn’t.

The 31-year-old thespian had some critical words for his Black compatriots who complain about not having enough roles in the UK: make your own.

Walters explained:

“Here’s my theory: I looked up to people like Lenny Henry and David Harewood. They were the kind of people who made me want to get into this. But they don’t write enough, they don’t produce enough and they don’t direct enough,” he says.

“Lenny’s production company put a film out called Alive and Kicking, where he played a guy coming off drugs. And it was one of the most cutting-edge UK films I’ve seen. And since then, he’s put out nothing much. They should be the pioneers. I’d like to direct and produce and try and push things forward. It’s obvious that it’s more difficult for black actors than it is for white actors over here. So you can run away to the States or you can stay here and try to change things.”

Although Walters has yet to write or direct his own project, choosing to star in shows like the controversial yet popular Top Boy, and films like Bullet Boy, Walters claims that when he does begin creating projects they won’t highlight (or to some glorify) London’s street life in the same way his current work seems to do.

“When I start to direct, I don’t want my first film to be like Bullet Boy or Top Boy or something you’d expect,” he said. “I don’t even read a lot of the stuff I get sent because it’ll be AK-47 or The Gun or whatever!”

Walters comments come on the heels of Top Boy’s season two premiere, which many criticized as being yet another stereotypical portrayal of London’s Black community. In the show Walters plays a quick-thinking drug dealer who employees several teens in his local estate (housing project) in East London. While the show does indeed include a host of Black characters behaving badly, the dealers and users in Top Boy come in all shades and races, a fact that Walters loves about his hometown.

“I go away to places in Europe or America and I feel uncomfortable; I can’t wait to get home. We are so multicultural and mixed up,” he explained. “Give it 20 years and there won’t be any people of one race any more. Everyone will have something else in them. I think that’s a beautiful thing.”

Though I sympathize with Walters’ hope for a Kumbaya nation, and feel like his comments simply seek to justify/explain the high numbers of folks who “date out” in London, history tells us it takes a lot more than people “having something else in them” to stop racism/colorism. We can look at Brazil, or post-Antebellum America, or South Africa, or India, or anywhere darker skinned people continue to be oppressed by their fair-skinner brethren.

Mixing races does not end prejudice. Contrary to Walters’ assertion (which he doesn’t seem to stick to since his longtime girlfriend and children are Black), in 20, or 50, or even 100 years from now everyone WILL NOT be mixed. There will always be those who prefer to stick to their own kind, so I wonder what Walters thinks will become of them.

Will the multiracial people look down on those who choose to marry and continue their culture? Will the “pure race” people look down on the multiracial ones?

While I understand Walters’ sentiments and realize that his hometown is much more diverse than other parts of the globe (I mean, even coming from L.A. I was caught off guard by the sheer numbers of Black men with non-Black women on their arms), the rest of the world isn’t London. Hell, the rest of Britain isn’t London either.

But perhaps I’m too cynical. Perhaps history will not repeat itself. Perhaps Ashley Walters is right.

What do you think, Clutchettes? In 20 years…will we be closer to a race-less society? 

h/t MadNewsUk

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  • Tee tee

    Oh no you didn’t come for bashment! Ok that was funny hehehehehehe.

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  • GoingGoingGone

    Breeding into mulattoes is NOT the solution. It only aids white folks in feeling more comfortable when they walk the streets, go into places of business etc, because they will no longer have to see an AUTHENTIC black face. Mulattos may be seen as an improvement, but will never be on the same level as whites. Black males will say ANYTHING to excuse their self hatred & deflect attention from wanting kids that don’t remind them of what they hate. Mulattos/biracials cannot produce dark black offspring. Males like Morris Chestnut or Tyson Beckford will be a thing of the past.

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  • SAgirl

    Hi.. I am South African, and I would like to tell you once again America, we do not have a colorism problem in South Africa. There may be light teasing, but opression based on skin tone does not exist among Black South Africans. We see lots of dark skinned blacks on TV, represented in positive ways (successful, desirable, caring and dignified) and it (colourism) really isnt even a topic. Maybe Nigeria but not in SA.

    I’ve noticed the numerous misconceptions about SA many americans have. We do not have the same racial experiences in many ways because in SA, black people are the majority and we ourselves are portrayed positvely most of the time. We have economic and education problems and an increasing class problem separating the blacks but colorism isn’t one.

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  • Black People

    It’s amazing that the only ones willing to marry black people are Western White Liberals. They’ll gladly marry are all successful black men and black women, and hold them up like trophies. Other races of like Asians, Indians, and Middle Easterners, don’t care if black people are successful or not, their not marrying black people only whites. Why is that? Easy, the white savior complex. Western white liberals pity blacks and feel the need to save them on a global scale. Also blacks hold white people higher than themselves, therefore it’s easy for a white person to attain Godhood amongst black people. Combine those two and a white person can have any black person they want. Wealthy, famous, educated, or whatever. Black people have to fight tooth and nail to date and marry the elite blacks, but not white people. White people get first choice to choose amongst blacks. Who said slavery was non-existent?

    Black people call Asians, Indians, Middle Easterners, and Hispanics racist, but guess what, they simply love themselves and want to build themselves up as a family, community, people, nation. Black people don’t. Black people are looking to escape their blackness, and the only ones willing to except them are, guess who, white people. No other race cares about black people. White people don’t too but they’ll gladly take are wealthy and educated ones. Black people having money is not enough for other races to marry them and I applaud them for their convictions about race. Let the white liberals save blacks, and marry them, other races sure as hell ain’t gonna do it.

    If black people never married whites the marriage rate of black people would be at 99% intra-racial. Black people are not marrying other races point blank.

    Question: If Western White Liberals are the only race to marry blacks at over 1% (That’s right, whites make up over 99% interracial relationships with blacks), is it because they like us, have pity on us, or do they just want are top Black Africans (Rich & Successful)?

    Take away white people and black people wouldn’t even be discussing interracial relationships!!!!!

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  • Black People

    “There won’t be any people of one race”. “There won’t be any black people not mixed with whites.” There, fixed your statement for you Mr. Ashley Waters. There won’t be any full-blooded black people. East Asians, Indians, Pakistanis, Middle Easterners will continue to marry their own people without looking to whites to clean up, fix, or un-curse the black race. Why is it that black people are the only ones making statements like these? Will all be one race! What? I couldn’t imagine other races saying that. In fact it’s quite the opposite for other races. “In the future our race will be even stronger”, said Indians, East Asians, Middle Easterners. Black people are the only ones so strongly content with race mixing, only with whites though. Other races are content with marrying, breeding, and socializing with their own.

    Black people give white people whatever they want. Other races fight for their own. All other races can do what they want with black people from selling them hair products to opening up liquor stores, to gas stations. But if blacks tried that they would be run out. Blacks call that racism, I call it racial pride. After all the whites magically breed with black people, then what, will black people finally quit talking about interracial relationships. No one will breed with blacks except whites. After that blacks will simply have to marry themselves. Shocking isn’t!

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