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Benedict Cumberbatch Apologizes For Calling Black Actors 'Colored' - Read His Statement

Benedict Cumberbatch Apologizes For Calling Black Actors 'Colored' - Read His Statement

Benedict Cumberbatch has sparked some backlash after making some comments on black actors during an interview on The Tavis Smiley Show.

“I think as far as colored actors go it gets really different in the U.K., and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here [in the U.S.] than in the U.K., and that’s something that needs to change,” the 38-year-old actor shared after answering a question about Chiwetel Ejiofor and David Oyelowo getting recognition on 12 Years a Slave and Selma.

After his interview aired, Benedict apologized for his comments by saying in a statement to People, “I’m devastated to have caused offense by using this outmoded terminology. I offer my sincere apologies. I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done. I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive. The most shaming aspect of this for me is that I was talking about racial inequality in the performing arts in the U.K. and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term.”

He added, “I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people and to learn from my mistakes in such a public manner please be assured I have. I apologize again to anyone who I offended for this thoughtless use of inappropriate language about an issue which affects friends of mine and which I care about deeply.”

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Photos: Wenn
Posted to: Benedict Cumberbatch

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  • mouth

    How about whiny self centered crybaby drama queens? Can we shorten that?

  • Kat

    what is the right term? maybe i dont get it because im european. whats the difference between colored actors and actors of color? its the exact same thing. how is one PC and the other is not?

  • kellyf

    Another double standard. African Americans refer to themselves as people of color all the time. How is that different?

  • kellyf

    yes and yes.


    Agree. They call themselves niggers in the rap songs!! how is that even correct? they are perpetuating this horrible words!

  • Lola_coop

    If you guys don’t get why that is offensive, then you need to take a history lesson

  • Kat

    i think term colored is issue only in america. you have to use word color to denote non caucasian people, there is no other way to say that someone isnt white.

  • RDJ

    The word colored is offensive because of its association with segregation and post slavery, racist Jim Crow laws
    Person of color is a general term that was coined from a place of neutrality and respect, not hate.

    BC nailed the response to what seems like an innocent slip up.

  • Kasumi

    At least he’s not a douche, mouth. I start to think it’s your real name, you sound that bad.

  • Violet

    Thank you. History 101.

  • soggybiscuit

    no more offensive then Redskins

  • dalovelee

    No ignorant one. African Americans don’t refer to themselves in 2015 as ‘colored’. In 1930′s yeah…But if you are informed and study history after the 60′s and the Black Panther movement it has been pretty much established colored is derogatory. It’s a description white people used to label or identify blacks. So if BC were living in some out of touch mountains in the Himalayas one could understand they are not aware of many blacks or cultural awareness of African Americans but he’s been to America and works in Hollywood and in London..Colored is NOT how African Americans refer to themselves. So you are full of bull sheep to say American blacks refer to themselves as colored. There is a distinct difference of saying I am a person of color from identifying and having a white person describe a black person as colored. He did not say persons of color. Which embraces all ethnic backgrounds, hispanic, asian, indian.

  • confused


  • soggybiscuit

    what does NACCP stand for – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

  • xsploit
  • mouth

    Nothing ever will please them. Most people alive don’t have any idea what happened in the 30′s. I don’t care. I wasn’t alive and didn’t do it. I am tired of emotional manipulators waiting to pounce so they can make everyone feel guilty for things they never never did over stuff that never happened to them. It’s like teenagers that still cry and storm even when getting what they want. The “spirit” of it isn’t good enough either. Makes more and more people just not care. I’m one of them.

  • itsok

    Oh here we go again people being obtuse and defensive at every turn when it comes the African American History. Geez these people need to take a course. Oh but no they love them some ignorance. oh how the hem and haw when they get a whiff of our culture. But you said this but you called yourself that! Thats right we love us and u dont. So when you hear it dont act like you know the connotation. Because you dont. When we speak it, don’t try to repeat it. Since you are far from empathizing with our sisters and brothers, because your ignorance & self glory is to vast for us to fill. You will never learn until you walk in our shoes so just stop there and move on from this post.

  • kellyf

    I didn’t say colored, did I? I said “of color”. I don’t need to study up on black history to know that “colored” and “of color” mean the EXACT SAME THING. That’s just a grammatical fact. It’s just another example of the ridiculous standard that’s set where some words are wildly offensive and others are perfectly acceptable. That’s like saying, you can call me a woman of religion, but don’t call me religious. It. means. the. exact. same. thing.

  • bigprisc

    people need to stop feeling offended about everything. and I get to say it because I am colored as well.

  • jane

    wtf do we call them? wtf do we call anyone anymore? because everyone has a problem with any name they are called. geesh, it’s just a word, get over it. we all know what he meant and that likely no moral offense was behind it. not everyone walks about censoring themselves all day long for the benefit of one small sector of the population that will take offense. people are so bloody sensitive. my nephew is retarded. we call him retarded. it is what it is. “mentally challegened” is the same as retarded. just say what you want – everything you say will offend someone.

  • ann

    This was the 1960′s and Negro was the term used to characterize/label the Africa America Race. Negro was a respected characterization during that era. White people refused to use this term b/c they felt it gave this race credibility and respect which at this time it did. White people calling Negroes colored is the same as using the N-word. The connotations are the same.

  • confused

    I would be very interested to know who (specifically) determined Negro (or Colored) was acceptable in 1960 by all people but is not in 2015 and why, regardless of the user’s racial background.

  • ann

    Slave reference and ignorance displayed by white people.

  • ann

    This man is such a bad actor, but he has colored friends. What race is that?

  • Melita

    Stop telling people how to react. You can say what you like and deal with the implications.

    Yes, you are” internet colored” but your statement shows your bias.

  • Melita

    Who are the? Are you aware that 35 million people in the US are AA. I am quite sure that “they” are not all rappers.

  • Melita

    Name one person who is AA that was publicly offended.

  • Melita

    False equivalence.

  • Ian Hessle


  • Nicola

    If you think institutional racism isn’t still a problem today, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

  • ann

    I have not seen a document in present day that asks for your ethnicity list colored as a choice in defining the race of a person.

  • Jeff


  • Betty Bucket

    Well you stop spreading your own opinion as the infinite truth, which it isn’t. Let me guess, Melita. You’re white and you just got angry, because a person who is actually colored and who’s opinion matters more, told you to bugger off.

  • mouth

    No one cares, seriously, you were never remotely a slave anymore than you were a coal miner, a railroad builder. Get the hell over it.

  • mouth

    Yeah, poor Obama.

  • Bob

    I don’t believe he meant to be offensive, I really think he meant people of color and had a brain fart.

  • Bob

    Colored is how mixed people are denoted in many parts of the world such as in South Africa.

  • VanityInsecurity

    Can’t say anything nowadays .. everything has become offensive. Black people refer themselves as many shades of color when explaining why some are darker than others, hence the word “colored” I mean, if that bothers people, I am really baffled as to why.

  • thelogic

    It was just BC using the wrong word by mistake. It is also not said in the UK, because people don’t like it. They usually would say ‘ non white British’ which is the legal definition in the UK for someone born in the UK, but who is not white. But this is not a term you would use in the US, because it might not mean anything to them and might cause offence to some.

    In the UK they make a lot of period TV/films, where there are not a lot of opportunities for black, Asian or hispanic actors. So it makes sense for them to try to obtain work in the US, where they produce more TV/film that is set in the present time.

    He has apologised for the slip and that is important, because it should not be acceptable.

  • Legendary Trolly

    Dont say them idiot. I am black and I dont ever race bait or get involved in those annoying arguments. But that was offensive what he said. Hopefully he means his apology.

  • Legendary Trolly

    Well cumberbatch didn say “people of color” did he? He said colored. U tried to be slick lol

  • DaPlaya

    African american is mo offensive….I be no african booty scratcher!

  • Nom DePlume

    I’m assuming he meant “person of color,” and just messed up. These terms are used more – and with greater sensitivity – in the US. In Australia, we’re much less clear about terminology, because it doesn’t come up so often. We would refer to specific people groups (eg. Indigenous, Pacific Islander, Indonesian etc.) rather than races. I can imagine the same might be true in Britain, where they’re more likely to refer to people according to country or continent of origin than to use a general term according to race. Not that I’m excusing the slip, but it wasn’t intentionally racist. Sometimes it’s appropriate to just say “oh, we don’t use that term anymore.”

  • Nom DePlume

    Kat, you can say “non-white” or “person of color.” Unfortunately, “colored” does have negative connotations, purely because of the way it has been used. Think signs in store windows that say “no colored folk.” It’s actually not that difficult to agree on a word that isn’t offensive to the majority if people to whom it applies.

  • Nom DePlume

    Kellyf, if you go to Wikipedia and search “colored” and “person of color,” you’ll find different entries for each that explain the distinction quite well.

  • Nom DePlume

    *THESE horrible words. Good grief, man.

  • Nom DePlume

    No, grandpa, not “everything” is offensive “these days.” The term “colored” is offensive because of the way it has been used in the past. It really isn’t too difficult to make some small concessions to a people group that has suffered a great deal of marginalization in living memory. It’s no different to referring to someone you know in polite, considerate terms. A quick search of the internet will turn up some brief and easy-to-read articles about the history of the term “colored” and why it is regarded as offensive. Even if you don’t personally understand it, it won’t do you any harm to address people in a way that they interpret as dignified and respectful.

  • Nom DePlume

    “You will never learn until you walk in our shoes…” That’s not really helpful. Most white people never WILL learn about “African American History” by personal experience. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t learn about it, or talk about race issues in and informed and dignified manner.

  • Nom DePlume

    “Redskins” actually is widely regarded as offensive.

  • Dory Phore

    There is a reason I have never used the phrase, “people of color.” My problem with these phrases (ethnic and minority, too) is that they (unintentionally or not) normalize white people, while branding those who are not white as the other/abnormal.

    Whites are just as “ethnic” as other people. And the term ‘minority’ is misleading. Consider the story of the white woman who traveled to India and asked why there were so many “minorities” there.

    Regarding people who are not white (of European descent), try to be specific as possible. Comparing whites against the whole, use the phrase, “non-white.” Comparing specific racial groups? It’s whites v. East Asians or Chinese, Korean, etc.