As protests against systematic racism and police brutality continue on a global scale, actors like John Boyega and Doctor Who and Star Trek’s Noel Clarke have been vocal about the anti-Blackness that continues to impact the U.K. The widespread reckoning has also turned into a potential watershed moment for the entertainment industry as multiple Black actors have come forward with the racism they’ve experienced in their profession. In that regard, Clarke recently tweeted a letter he received from an unidentified “high-level” agent.
“They have been in the Business as long as me,” Clarke explained. “We have met various times. I’ve worked with their clients. They have access to all the industry and professional information and yet...” The email, rife with condescension, offers a few backhanded compliments for his performance in the British crime drama Top Boy—a series that apparently isn’t normally the anonymous agent’s “thing,” which is never a detail that anyone needs, no matter the context. The problem is, Clarke was never in Top Boy.
We could attempt to guess the identity of the person the agent in question meant to compliment, but we won’t. After all, that’s barely important when you consider that this impressively shitty email came from an allegedly credible agent who, between their own professionally documented network and the enduring power of Google, had the ability to conduct bare-minimum research before sending anything. But we’re sure that the entire cast of Top Boy is thrilled that its story of “marginalisation and struggle” truly resonated with a person who didn’t feel compelled enough to peruse the its IMDB page.
When asked repeatedly to name and shame the agent in question, Clarke responded that the person “would be finished,” explaining that he didn’t wish to ruin their life since they apologized. The notion of powerful industry figures experiencing concrete consequences for racist actions still seems somewhat far-fetched, but that could change slightly as we begin to witness others like Abby Lee Miller and Lea Michele lose opportunities for their past indiscretions. The U.K.’s entertainment industry also came under fire during last year’s BAFTA nominations when the actor and director shortlists reflected a total lack of diversity. Clearly the entertainment landscape has a lot of work to do on a global level. It can start by making sure its gross “attaboys” at least get to the right people.
Looking for ways to advocate for Black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.