Because I was aspirational, I did my work, I was respectful to my teachers, I experienced a lot of bullying from the black kids. My friends were largely white or Asian.
My parents are very hard working people who did everything they could for their children. I have two brothers and they worked dog hard to give us an education and provide us with the most comfortable life possible. My dad provided for his family daily. So, yes, that is definitely in my DNA.
I would make the tea on a Daniel Day-Lewis set just to observe how he crafts roles like he did in 'My Left Foot.' That was the equivalent of seeing Haley's Comet for me. I just couldn't understand how that was possible.
There are many, many communities, many ethnic minorities, many civilizations that have been brutalised by others and you have to move on. You cannot perpetually stay in that place of blame, otherwise it's just a downward spiral.
I am a father, I am very aware of the things that I'm putting out in the world knowing that one day my children will watch the work that I've done. I want to be able to stand by it.
Asher means 'happy and blessed' which embodies my eldest. Caleb means 'stubborn and tenacious dog' and I can't even tell you how much that is my little boy! It was a useful warning.
I think until Britain acknowledges just how much of a presence black people had here before the Sixties, then there are certain stories that are not going to be inclusive of what I have to offer.
I turned down a lot of easier opportunities in order to go for the things that I really and ultimately wanted to do. And what's really nice is that it's starting to work. I've been an actor for coming up on 14 years now and the level of activity that's taking place now is a culmination of a slow cooker approach to as opposed to a microwave.
One of the things I have an allergic reaction to playing, especially as a black actor, is the mandatory kind of best friend/cop/detective type. You will never see me in that movie.
For me, I'm always looking for opportunities to work with people who are better than me, who are more experienced than me, people from whom I can learn. And who could I learn more from than someone with an unprecedented movie star career that has spanned over thirty years whose name is Tom Cruise?
I admire many actors, though I don't think there's anyone whose career I would want to mirror sort of by the beats. What I'm really looking to do is constantly defy expectations. I'm very curious to see if you can actually have a character actor and a movie star's career combined.
We start 'The Butler' in June and that's incredibly exciting for me because I get to work with the amazing Forest Whitaker again. It's a phenomenal script and a great, great role - I play his son. Oprah Winfrey is his wife and my mother. My character is a radical civil rights activist.
I have a bee in my bonnet as to how few black historical figures one sees on film; incredible stories, stories from which we are living the legacy and which just don't get made.
I know I had my equivalents in Adrian Lester and Lenny James when I was at drama school. I remember David Harewood doing 'Othello' at the National, and Adrian Lester having done Cheek by Jowl's famous 'As You Like It and Company' at the Donmar. Not necessarily performances I saw, but just the fact they happened was massively encouraging.
I love that as a black person I've experienced not being a minority. I think that's helped me to combat the minority mentality people can have here, which can stop them scaling the heights.
Getting to do what I think was my fifth BBC drama with Nikki Amuka-Bird - we've done 'Shoot The Messenger,' 'Five Days,' 'The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency,' 'Born Equal' and now 'Small Island' - was another highlight for me. And filming in Jamaica was great, too.
I seem to be able to disassociate my insecurities. I know a lot of actors - some of the best actors in the world - can't bear to watch themselves and I have to say I can't relate to that.
I think it's vital to have something outside your acting to keep you rooted in the real world, and help you fill the vacuum. If you have nothing else, it can be unhealthy. For me being a Christian has been invaluable: it simply means acting isn't the centre of my life.
I'm one of a generation brought up on television whose acting is more 'naturalistic', whereas with some of the older generation it's more heightened. But I think there's room for both styles.
I've been an actor for 14 years now and a lot of that time was spent in theatre and television. Then I moved to L.A. to try and build upon that and it's starting to pay off!