David Oyelowo explained why he turns down roughly “80 percent” of the roles he’s offered in order to avoid perpetuating stereotypes about black people, according to Fox News.

The Golden Globe nominee said, “I live my life from the perspective of ‘I must be part of the solution and not the problem,’” he told the outlet. “I think one of the privileges I don’t have is to just do any role I want, because I know that playing certain roles perpetuate stereotypes and perpetuate mindsets people have about black people that is not helpful to all of what we’re talking about.”

“I turn down about 80 percent of what comes my way for that reason, because I understand the power storytelling and images has on culture.”

“He thanked me for some of the films I make, because he said, ‘Unfortunately, a lot of my white colleagues, their estimation of what an interaction with a black person might be is based on films and television they watch,’” Oyelowo explained. “And so those images, whatever they are, if that is informing how you see black people, then what I do for a living, for some people, is life or death.”

“I felt called of God to do it… I was rejected by the original director to do it, and there were another four directors before Lee Daniels came along and cast me,” he explained. “And we still couldn’t get the film made. That was a seven-year journey and so I just had the moment of, ‘OK, Lord, if you told me to do this, you’re just gonna have to equip me. I’m gonna do the work.’”

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The actor, who earned a Golden Globe nomination in 2015 for his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the hit movie “Selma,” was asked in a recent interview with Access Hollywood about his career in the wake of ongoing protests about systemic racism and police brutality. He explained that he tries to be very selective about the roles he accepts because he believes that storytelling has the power to do great harm as well as great good.



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He said he recently felt vindicated for his selective role acceptance while doing research for the 2019 movie “Don’t Let Go,” where he played a black police officer. To prepare, he did a ride-along with a real-life officer who is black in Los Angeles.

Later in the interview, the actor talked about landing the role of Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma,” feeling that divine intervention played a role in his casting.

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According to Yahoo Entertainment, Oyelowo has signed on for a biopic about boxing legend Sugar Ray Robinson titled “Sweet Thunder.” He’ll also play the president of the United States in Showtime’s adaptation of James Patterson and former President Bill Clinton’s novel, “The President Is Missing.”