Giancarlo Esposito may let you hang him on a wall, but will not let you place him in a box. Many film fans first met the Italian-African American actor as the Jordan fiend Buggin Out from Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing or Dean Big Brother Almighty in School Daze.
These days his roles are bit more zen, oscillating between a mercurial Meth dealer on the the Emmy-Award winning AMC series “Breaking Bad” and a talking mirror in ABC’s “Once Upon A Time.” A healthy dose of yoga helps him keep perspective and the work has resulted in a Critics Choice Award and several other nominations. During an interview with ShadowAndAct the accomplished actor discussed the issues of race in Hollywood and Esposito insists that he’s only human.
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S&A: Let’s change topics a bit, I want your opinion. I watched a clip of a July interview with Morgan Freeman. He was a guest on the Tavis Smiley show, and he made a statement that professionally he was not a black actor. What are your thoughts on his statement?
GE: I feel that we have come a long way as American people, and we have to start looking at ourselves as human beings. I love that Morgan said that, because when you become an actor, you become a part of a new family. And that new family asks that actors be able to play white or black.
I have to say it’s a very touchy subject. I feel that if you can transcend the color of your skin, with your talent, why carry that as a badge or a label? I feel that sometimes, holding yourself as black, saying that is your sole identity, can sometimes stand in your way of being a member of the humanity of man, being a member of the family of the divine.
I feel that our stories are cross culturally irrelevant, and I’m a member if a larger community of people who have no boundaries in terms of color or in terms of how I look at other people and their stories.
Some projects will be ethnically relevant, that’s why I did Gospel Hill. But, I will have to agree with Morgan. We should not only tell our stories, but we should aim to be more expansive with how we tell our stories as actors and actresses.