Discourse via the fast growing social media platform Clubhouse was started regarding the casting of Daniel Kaluuya for the film Judas and the Black Messiah ; this is an upcoming American biographical drama film based on the life of Fred Hampton, chairman of the Black Panther Party in late 1960s Illinois. Daniel did however win this role over his co-star LaKeith Stansfield and this follows a growing trend of British Actors and Actresses securing more high profile roles than their American peers and this begs the question “Are British Actors and Actresses trained Better than their American counterparts”
The invasion of British leading men and women into Hollywood has been rampant in the past few years. First noticed some time in 2011, the trend was initially dismissed as a novelty: an interesting phase that would pass, rather than as a threat. But with each passing year the threat from the small island across the pond grows and it's now sparking the attention of the country that is the home of entertainment.
David Harewood in Homeland , Mark Addy in the Game of Thrones, Tom Hiddleston in Thor, Gemma Arterton in Clash of the Titans and Michael Sheen in Masters of Sex are just some examples of the growing number of Brtish Actors and Actresses securing top roles in America. One thing they do all have in common however is that they all attended the prestigious RADA.
RADA or the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts is one of the UK’s most prestigious drama schools, offering world-leading vocational training for actors, stage managers, designers and technical stagecraft specialists. (1)
In an interview with BBC America in 2011 British playwright and the Director of RADA Edward Kemp said “Their feeling seems to be that the more heterogeneous, broader-based U.K. training offers a better foundation for acting in many genres and many media. I think this has coincided with improved training in the U.K. which through spending more time on acting for camera has made young U.K. actors more at ease on screen from very early in their careers. (2)
Outside of this British Actors and Actresses do tend to be well trained anyway with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama providing the grounds for Andrew Garfield to hone his skills and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art serving a similar role for David Oyelowo; both of whom had successful careers in the US. The US is not however devoid of highly acclaimed institutions as they boast the Tisch School of the Arts who helped to develop Martin Scorsese, Adam Sandler, Anne Hathaway. Juilliard ; who helped to develop Robin Williams and Kelsey Grammer and The Actors Studio who helped to hone the skills of Al Pacino, Bradley Cooper to name a few.
Building a promising talents foundation is one thing but the biggest reason British Actors and Actresses are securing so many high profile roles in Hollywood can be seen to be down to vocal control.
Or at least that is the opinion of Cecilie O’Reilly, a coordinator of voice training for Columbia College Chicago’s acting programme, who has worked with British actors. She said the trick is to teach them to master the hard “r” sound and to form vowels differently, moving pressure away from the roof of the mouth. She states that British actors are very happy to switch vocal techniques and are prepared to study.
She went on to add that “They come from a tradition of vocal skill and training. The Brits are steeped in a tradition, of many, many years of having the appreciation of the variations on their speech. And there is a pride in it.” (3)
To tie this together the reason for the influx is still unknown ; the individual who raised this debate (Daniel Kaluuya) doesn’t himself come from the most formal acting background as improv lessons at Anna Scher’s Theatre pale in comparison to the highly acclaimed acting institutions both domestic and stateside and people with equal or even a more obscure acting background i.e. Idris Elba have also been able to crack Hollywood. There may be something to be said about the lack of opportunity domestically creating an insatiable drive to make it in Entertainments capital but this is again speculative, all that can be said with any degree of certainty is that the number of British Actors and Actresses securing high profile roles in Hollywood is growing year on year and this is exciting for the whole of British Acting.