Damn skippy we do!
Downton Abbey has been met with applause for its decision to include a black character, the very first in its four series run – and creator Julian Fellowes hopes it will open the floodgates for other shows to follow suit.
The hugely popular drama returned on September 22 with the much vaunted appearance of sharp-suited jazz singer Jack Ross, played by Gary Carr.
But while his presence is a bold move given the show’s historical context, 64-year-old Fellowes believes it is necessary – because the black community need to see more positive role models on TV.
‘I think the world has been very unjust to black people,’ he told The Sun. ‘They have had a very rough time. If I was growing up now, I would want to see some winners among that group.
‘I would want to see some positive role models who are getting things done.’
Fellowes credits Naomie Harris as one of the black actors to help spark this black media revolution
While the appearance of genial jazzman Ross is a step in the right direction, Fellowes believes we are already starting to see positive changes for British actors of West Indian and African descent in the cinema.
That change, Fellowes believes, is easily symbolised by Naomie Harris, who was introduced as the new Miss Moneypenny in Skyfall, currently the highest grossing James Bond film of all time.
‘What Naomie Harris is doing for young black girls out there is really good. I am 100 per cent behind that,’ he said.
Ross, 26, had previously taken on smaller roles in a string of shows, amongst them Death In Paradise and Bluestone 42, before landing a prominent role in the 1920s period drama.
Last year Fellowes said he hoped to ‘open it up ethnically a bit’ and revealed he was considering adding a black or Indian character.
This was a great year for black cinema with Fruitvale Station, The Butler, and Kevin Hart’s record-breaking Let Me Explain. Hopefully, more open-minded producers and directors will take note and act accordingly…
Image via Wiki/ITV