David Oyelowo accuses Game of Thrones of marginalising actors of colour

"There is absolutely no excuse in a show like that why there aren’t more prominent characters of colour."

David Oyelowo photographed at the BFI London Film Festival
David Oyelowo The star of Selma and A United Kingdom. Image Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Game of Thrones has its fair share of high-profile fans, but it’s fair to say one of them isn’t critically-acclaimed Selma and A United Kingdom star David Oyelowo.

The Golden Globe-nominated actor has suggested that the HBO series doesn’t do enough to bring actors of ethnic diversity into prominent roles, instead pushing them out to the periphery of the cast.

“The fact that they put any ethnic minorities in that means that there should be space for bigger characters,” Oyelowo told Radio Times.

“Because you’re not just saying ‘OK this is purely a white world, and here are very story-driven reasons why that’s the case.'”

“There is absolutely no excuse in a show like that why there aren’t more prominent characters of colour.”

Despite the presence of actors like Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei and Nonso Anozie as Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Oyelowo thinks the characters have been “left on the margins, as opposed to put them front and centre”.

“Even if for whatever reason, it’s a world in which people of colour in those stories are subservient, or they are more in a helper role, that doesn’t mean they can’t have prominent storylines. All you have to do is shift the focus to focus on those characters,” he explained.

“So for me, there is absolutely no excuse in a show like that why there aren’t more prominent characters of colour.”

Game Of Thrones Battle Of The Bastards
Sansa and Jon Sophie Turner on Game of Thrones Image Picture HBO

The British actor, however, did have good words to say about the diversity on screen in JJ Abrams’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

“It shows that you cannot continue to use the excuse of a potential ding in your financial renumeration as a reason not to do these things,” he said of the film’s success.

Oyelowo also called for a post-Peter Capaldi Doctor Who revolution by changing the lead actor’s gender or race.

“I think that is an absolute case in point, whereby I don’t think there is anything about that character that is rooted in white maleness,” he said.

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn