Game of Thrones Marginalizes People of Color, David Oyelowo Says

Selma star weighs in on HBO's hit series' casting choices

By Francesca Bacardi Oct 12, 2016 3:10 PMTags
Game of Thrones Cast, David OyelowoGetty Images

Movie star David Oyelowo is not happy with Game of Thrones.

The Selma actor criticized HBO's hit series for its tendency to put actors of color in secondary roles instead of at the forefront of the show. "The fact that they put any ethnic minorities in that means that there should be space for bigger characters," Oyelowo told "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.'"

Such characters over the years include Daenerys' army general Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), her translator Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and wealthy Xaro Xhoan Daxos (Nonso Anozie). But Oyelowo found fault with these casting choices because he felt they're being consciously put in the periphery.

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"You are interspersing people of color into it," Oyelowo said, "and so therefore it's a conscious decision to put them on the margins, as opposed to put them front and center."

He continued, "Even if for whatever reason, it's a world in which people of color 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. So for me, there is absolutely no excuse in a show like that why there aren't more prominent characters of color."

It's not just Game of Thrones that Oyelowo takes issue with. The Nightingale star also explained that there are other iconic roles that could be played by a person of color without having it affect the show or movie, including Doctor Who (currently played by Peter Capaldi). "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 added.

"There are going to be people who are going to resist, on the basis of tradition, but I think that's absolutely a character where from a story point of view it doesn't undercut the story in anyway. So yeah, I would be all for that."

He did, however, praise director JJ Abrams for casting John Boyega as Finn in The Force Awakens, calling the choice "fantastic."