Benedict Cumberbatch Apologizes For Using Term “Colored Actors”: I Was “An Idiot”

Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch  Desiree Navarro/WireImage

Owning up to his mistake. Benedict Cumberbatch issued a statement on Monday, Jan. 26, to apologize for using a controversial term. 

In a cringe-worthy moment, the Oscar-nominated British actor, 38, referred to his black colleagues as "colored actors" in an interview with Tavis Smiley on PBS last week. While he was speaking about the racial inequality and the insufficient representation of diversity in the UK, many took issue with Cumberbatch's use of the term "colored."

"As far as colored actors go, it gets really difficult in the UK," the 12 Years a Slave actor said in the interview. "I think a lot of my friends have had more opportunities [in the U.S.] than in the UK, and that's something that needs to change."

The Imitation Game star was pegged as "racist" on Twitter, and called out for using a word with a complicated history that has largely been phased out. Smiley himself, however, stood up for his interview subject, tweeting, "Those who saw Benedict Cumberbatch on @PBS, know he feels persons of color are underrepresented in #Hollywood."

Acknowledging the backlash, Cumberbatch released a statement to apologize for his words to various outlets, including the Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter

"I'm devastated to have caused offense by using this outmoded terminology," he began. "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," he added. "The most shaming aspect of this for me is that I was talking about racial inequality in the performing arts in the UK and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term."

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