Naomie Harris has said her career mission is to only portray “positive images” of black women adding she will not play a role if it “doesn’t move the story forward” on diversity.
The actor, 44, who plays Moneypenny in the James Bond franchise, said her determination not to play stereotyped roles was “difficult” when she started out and she found herself turning down a lot of parts in order to stick to her pledge.
Speaking in the October digital issue of Glamour magazine, Harris said: “When I started out [in acting], there weren’t a lot of Black roles for women and it was tough.
“But I always set out with this mission statement: ‘My job is to portray positive images of Black women. If I get presented with a stereotypical role, I’m not going to play it. If it doesn’t move the story forward about Black women and show us in a positive, strong and multifaceted light, then I’m not going to play those roles.’”
The actor, who also played Winnie Mandela in The Long Walk to Freedom about the life of Nelson Mandela, added: “It was difficult in the beginning, because I didn’t have any money. I was trying to support myself and I’d have to say ‘no’ to roles that I needed to pay the bills, but it paid off.”
Harris also spoke about being bullied in her youth because she had starred in a number of children’s shows.
“I was on TV, so by the time I got to secondary school, I was kind of famous, because I was in these shows kids watched like Simon And The Witch, so they knew who I was,” she said. “I think that intimidated lots of people – and particularly one girl, who was the head of this gang, became really uncomfortable.”