BBC diversity official says ‘Luther’ isn’t ‘authentic’ due to not having Black friends

Many users on Twitter clapped back at the diversity manager's comments on the Idris Elba-led series

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At a MIPTV conference on Monday, a BBC diversity official said that Idris Elba‘s character in Luther isn’t “authentic” due to not having Black friends in the series.

As diversity initiatives continue to shape Hollywood, many conversations have begun surrounding Black representation and what that means for the entertainment industry. While there has been a significant increase in representation, there is always more work to be done, but the question of what makes “good” representation is now taking center stage.

Miranda Wayland, BBC’s diversity manager, spoke about diversity in television on Monday, specifically using the hit show, Luther, as an example.

The 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Press Room
LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 30: Actor Idris Elba, winner of Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for ‘Beasts of No Nation,’ and Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for ‘Luther,’ poses in the press room during The 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 30, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. 25650_015 (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Turner)

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, Wayland shared in her statement, “When it first came out everybody loved the fact that Idris Elba was in there — a really strong, Black character lead. We all fell in love with him. Who didn’t, right? But after you got into about the second series you got kind of like, OK, he doesn’t have any Black friends, he doesn’t eat any Caribbean food, this doesn’t feel authentic.”

Wayland also reportedly concluded that the big heads in television must, “ensure that Black characters are supported by an environment and culture that is ‘absolutely reflective’ of their background.”

The comments immediately went viral on Twitter, with many fans agreeing with Wayland’s sentiments but questioning the word usage in her comments.

One user tweeted, “‘Luther isn’t black enough to be real because he doesn’t have any black friends and doesn’t eat any Caribbean food’ When you see groups through the prism of stereotypes this is the insulting outcome. Would she prefer to see Luther dunk basketball hoops at the end of every scene?”

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Another user tweeted, “The police turn on Luther every chance they get. How is that NOT an authentic black character?”

Another Twitter user called out the hypocrisy in the comments from Wayland, writing, “I just read the BBC’s head of diversity Miranda Wayland says Idris Elba’s TV character Luther isn’t black enough to be real because he doesn’t have black friends or eat Caribbean food. Just because Luther likes pie ‘n’ mash instead of jerk chicken doesn’t make him any less black!”

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