Mahershala Ali is tired of "always" being asked "about diversity" just because he is a black actor.
The 44-year-old actor has hit out at the way black stars are constantly asked about "where the culture’s at" in interviews, when white actors often get to simply talk about "their process and life" without having to comment on larger issues.
He said: "It’s just that white actors are only asked about race if they’re doing a civil rights project. In interviews like this, they talk about their process and life, but black actors are always talking about diversity, where the culture’s at, where it’s going. We have to be professors of cultural studies, where a white actor can just be an actor!"
Mahershala originally won a basketball scholarship at St Mary’s College of California when he was a teenager, but decided not to pursue the sporting career path because he found it "exploitative".
The ‘Moonlight’ star said: "I found college sports exploitative. They saw players as a product. We were just there to win championships. So I used sports to pay for my education. I knew I had to do something creative like my dad."
And the ‘Green Book’ actor insists he didn’t become an actor in the hope of finding fame and money, as he says he believed that if he simply did his "best work", that the rest would come "naturally".
He said: "It took time but I learned that acting was about just being of service to stories and characters. And I always believed that if I just did my best work, it would naturally expand."
Mahershala won an Oscar for his performance in ‘Moonlight’ in 2017, and landed the part of Wayne Hays in ‘True Detective’ as a result.
And the actor says the important TV role "checks so many boxes" for him.
Speaking to the newly relaunched issue of Esquire UK – which is on sale Thursday (14.02.19) – Mahershala said: "If I could articulate the type of challenge that I wanted, whether for film or TV, it was Wayne Hays. It’s just a massive role. Expansive. It checks so many boxes for me as an actor, that in terms of TV, it doesn’t get better. I just thought, coming off the Oscars, if I didn’t get that opportunity then, I don’t know how you get to that place."