The 93rd annual Oscars saw ground-breaking firsts. From Chloe Zhao becoming not only the second woman, but the first woman of colour, to win an award for ‘Best Director’, to Sir Anthony Hopkins being the oldest recipient of the infamous award.
Although the 2021 Oscars was a much smaller affair compared to last year’s ceremony, the effects of the virus did not stop the momentous occasion from creating records.
The UK’s very own Daniel Kaluuya made history by becoming the first black British actor to win an award.
Kaluuya’s career this year has been highly commended. He has already won awards, including a Golden Globe, for his performance in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’, a film portraying the life and death of Fred Hampton, an American activist and socialist.
The British-Ugandan actor’s Oscar win follows on from his ‘Skins’ co-worker, Dev Patel, who most notably won multiple big name awards for his performance in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.
British born actors from various ethnic backgrounds are making a name for themselves, and inspiring a whole new generation of actors.
Daniel Kaluuya’s humble beginnings serve as a representation of those from similar origins as him, who wish to follow in his footsteps.
What does this Oscar win mean for young black aspiring actors?
Tadiwa Lusengo started acting at 16 before officially entering the industry in 2017.
Now aged 20, Tadiwa attends the Identity Drama School of Acting, in hopes of following in the footsteps of successful British actors.
“He [Daniel Kaluuya] is doing something great. He’s the first black British person to win”, he said.
“All other young black British actors, myself included, they can look up to him”.
So far only 50 black actors have been nominated for an Academy Award in the Oscars’ history. Of this 50, only 14 have actually won the award, with Kaluuya being the first Brit amongst them.
Tadiwa, whose family originate from Zimbabwe in southern Africa, spoke about breaking barriers within the acting industry, in order to gain recognition.
He is currently auditioning for a role highlighting struggles within the black community, which he says has been inspired by the likes of British actors such as Damson Idris and Michael Ward.
“There’s an audition I’m working on right now for a movie that’s about immigration in the black community”.
He added: “I do feel inspired because he [Daniel Kaluuya] probably came from a similar background. He’s representing the people of my ethnicity really well.
“He’s showing that anything is possible. He is opening doors and pushing the narrative for people from the same ethnic background as him”.
The young actor spoke about his hard work and the hours he has put into his craft, but urged those in the same position as him to continue pushing, even if things seem as if they aren’t moving forward.
“I’ve had times where I wanted to stop because the hours are crazy and it can mess you up mentally. You’ll be going for loads of auditions and never really hearing back unless they want to book you for a role.
“When I first started, for one whole year I didn’t book any jobs. You’ll think ‘am I good enough?’ or ‘what am I doing wrong?'”.
He added: “It requires a lot of hard work, self discipline and dedication. You just need to keep going, your time will come”.
Tadiwa also spoke about the recent harassment allegations concerning British actor, Noel Clarke, which he says has affected the black community, particularly those within the acting industry.
A lot of short films directed by Clarke, which would have helped the careers of a lot of aspiring actors of colour, have now been cancelled following these allegations.
“He was a pioneer for young people and aspiring actors to look up to”, Tadiwa said.
“Sexual harassment is a touchy subject and I think if people do choose to speak out, men or women, they should have the confidence to do so.
“They shouldn’t feel as though their voices won’t be heard”.
Despite what Tadiwa describes as a “setback”, he says that this is something that he does not have problem calling out or speaking against.
When asked where he sees his career within the next 5 years, Tadiwa stated that he wanted to be “actively working”, which included being credited in TV series’ for Netflix and Amazon Prime.
He is working towards making his name becoming widely recognised and associated with a specific brand.