Idris Elba attending the 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival awards gala on January 4, 2014. The actor recently addressed U.K.'s Parliament about the lack of diversity present in the television industry. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
LONDON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Idris Elba has criticized the lack of diversity seen on British television while addressing the U.K. Parliament in London.
"There's a disconnect between the real world and TV world. People in the TV world often aren't the same as people in the real world. And there's an even bigger gap between people who make TV, and people who watch TV," Elba said on Monday addressing British leaders.
"The TV world helps shape the real world. It's also a window on our world. But when we look out the window, none of us live in Downton Abbey," the Luther star continued lamenting the lack of minority characters present on British television.
Elba even noted how the lack of diversity can hurt the country's economy. ""If you want to safeguard the economy, you have to safeguard the creative industries; and they rely on talent. Talent is our lifeblood — we can't afford to waste it, or give it away," he said. "But when you don't reflect the real world, too much talent is trashed. Talent is everywhere, opportunity isn't. And talent can't reach opportunity."
Elba also addressed how women and the LGBT community on television are often portrayed in stereotypical roles. "You have to ask the question, 'Are black people always playing petty criminals? Are women always the love interest or always talking about men? Are gay people always stereotyped? Are disabled people ever seen at all?'"
After mentioning how he had to travel to the United States to find different types of roles and to reinvent himself, Elba pleaded with parliament to help make the British television industry more inclusive. "Today I'm asking the TV and film industry to think outside the box, and to get outside the box. This isn't a speech about race, this is a speech about imagination. Diversity of thought."
The actor's speech comes after the recent diversity controversy surrounding the Oscars in which for the second year in a row, only whites were nominated in each category. Academy president Cheryl Boone discussed the lack of African-American nominations mentioning how she is "heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion."