Home“Idris Elba and Ciel are the only black men in England!” Boxing Day’s Amal Amin on representing the UK from Los Angeles | Movie

“Idris Elba and Ciel are the only black men in England!” Boxing Day’s Amal Amin on representing the UK from Los Angeles | Movie

aml Amin has one of those big smiles that lights up a room – and he spreads it freely, even to those who aren’t physically affected by his charm. When I join the video call, he asks Alexa, very gently, to turn off the music.

Amin lives in his own home in Los Angeles (where he moved from London a decade or so ago). He’s been acting professionally since he was six and has now co-wrote, directed and starred in the rom-com movie, Boxing Day. It’s an irresistible Christmas London movie in the Love Actually tradition. It’s also the UK’s first Christmas romantic comedy to lead a black cast.

Emin grew up watching old movies with his mom – anything with Katharine Hepburn or Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant. His feelings tend toward stories about love, family, and friendship. But you wouldn’t necessarily know that from his movies. “I do a lot of lead roles. But I’ve never played anything close to home. Even if I go back to Trife in Kidulthood. This is not my life or how I grew up.”

‘It’s a love letter to British culture’… Watch the Boxing Day trailer.

Kidulthood, the 2006 gritty movie in which he played a troubled teen in West London, was a huge hit. Since moving to the United States, he has appeared in David E. Kelly’s Harry’s Law, a young science fiction film. maze runner and the Wachowski Sisters’ Netflix series feeling 8. He played the role of D, a Jamaican gangster, in Idris Elba’s British drama yardi.

With Boxing Day, Amin wanted to reveal more about himself as an actor, stating, “To amplify another aspect of myself and the characters in my real life. It’s a love letter to them and to British culture.” The film is an autobiographical, fictional version of his family’s Christmas parties: big encounters in London with aunts, cousins, friends and friends of friends. He plays Melvin, a writer who travels from Los Angeles on Christmas with his adorable American girlfriend Lisa (Aja Naomi King). The plan is to introduce her to his British-Caribbean family on Boxing Day. What I forgot to tell her was that his ex-wife is a famous pop star (played by Little Mix Lee Ann Pinnock).

Emin says he put a little of himself into the character, but as a comic book Melvin wrote as a maker. “He runs a lot, but I am facing confrontation. I am happy to have a problem.”

He wanted to show a side of British life that we don’t see in the cinema. “If the world stopped tomorrow, what would black Brits look like? If we only had movies, they’re too tight. I add the brushstroke.”

“It’s all about the British culture that’s in the country, isn’t it? Whether it’s Bend It Like Beckham, or senior boy, or Richard Curtis and the great movies he made.” Amin loves the fact that Boxing Day is the UK’s first Christmas romance film. “But, more than that, it’s a world-class movie.”

It is global. I keep telling him that some of my favorite scenes are about black British culture. Marianne Jean Baptiste gives an amazing performance as Melvin’s mother, Shirley, her new white boyfriend. She gives a letter explaining to him why she is unable to introduce herself to her children. She talks about the challenges she faced as a mother, raising her black children to “be proud of what they saw in the mirror.”

It’s incredibly poignant, I said to Amin, who seems shy. “Thank you very much honestly. One of the most amazing things about being finally able to write and direct is expressing the things I have thought or written over the years.” Growing up around women of color, these were fears he experienced when they started interracial relationships. “One of the things I’ve heard happen is this meaning: ‘Do I feel like I’m betraying my culture? Do I feel like I’m betraying my family?'”

Amal Amin in a funny role in childhood
“This is not my life or how I grew up” … as honest as Trife at Kidulthood. Photo: Everett Collection / Rex Features

Amin grew up in London – he is one of eight siblings, the eldest from the marriage of his parents. He says he gets his strong belief in himself – and a tough work ethic – from them. His British Jamaican mother took care of the children when they were young and later trained as a psychiatrist; It is now practiced as a relationship therapist.

Amin stumbles for a moment when he tries to describe his father. It is funny to speak of my father,” he says, and his arms indicate the impossibility of putting it into words. “He is a jack of all trades. He was a formidable leader in the town of Hackney.” His father, born in St. Vincent, is a lawyer and businessman. He founded a Caribbean College in London and organized youth exchanges around the world. As a child, Amin said, “I have been introduced to a lot of the world.” This teaches a lot about who I am.”

After a pause, he said, “You know, if I’m going to describe my father, he’s like that golden immigrant, who elevates a country a little bit. When you’re an immigrant to a country, like you’re an immigrant to America, you get this sense: ‘I must do this. Not There is a return.You know what I mean?

Amal Amin in The Maze Runner
“I was very clear I should go to America” … Amin in The Maze Runner. Photo: AF Archive / Al-Alamy

Amin made his first television appearance at the age of six, on the Flola children’s show Benjamin Hullabaloo, then went to the same theater school as Naomi Campbell and Ama Asante and performed in West End musicals Oliver! and Goulson.

He was on stage with Michael Jackson at the BRIT Awards when Jarvis Cocker invaded the stage and shake his owl. This was in 1996; Amin, who was 11 years old, was chosen to play one of the sad-faced, heartbroken children of Christ Jackson. After the accident, children injured in the unrest were taken to Hamleys at Brent Cross by Jackson’s team. “I tried to lie,” Amin recalls, but he had nothing to claim to be injured.

As a teenager, he was “insanely ambitious”: a major boy and a “star” at his theater school. “I was the rotten head boy,” he said with a smile. “If you give me a Softmint when I’m late, we’re good.” At home, things were not so good. His parents separated when he was fifteen and his comfortable life was ripped out from under him. “We moved a lot for a while. That was a huge challenge for me. I hated poverty.” He left their four-bedroom house and moved with his mother into a small apartment. I knew him as a teenager: “I was 15 and I was like: You know? I’m going to make my own way, my own money, my own things.”

At 20, he had a cracking year: Kidulthood came out of nowhere, launching a new generation of British teen films. At the same time, Emin got a role in The Bill. His best friend told him he’d be crazy if he left the series. But he had other ideas. “I agreed with my agent that I would do 18 months and bounce, because I was very clear I should go to America.” The lack of diverse roles in Britain has been a catalyst for other black British actors – including David Harwood and David Oyelowo – to move to the United States. But Hollywood has always been an honest “beacon.” However, the talent drain is a reality. “You just have to look at the math. We don’t have Idris Elba without Idris going to America and doing The Wire — and then coming home and going to Luther,” he says.

The output of “Boxing Day” made him more eclectic as an actor. I’m almost done playing Martin Luther King in a biographical film about gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who organized the 1963 rally in Washington. He delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech, which is protected by copyright and is therefore not usually portrayed in films. Before I continue, Chris Rock [his co-star] He was like: ‘This is the first time anyone has been allowed to say Martin’s words on screen. No pressure! But if anyone can handle the burden of playing the icon, my money is on Amin. He describes his acting style as “casual style”: “I literally lean very strongly towards whatever character I play.”

Amal Amin in the Boxing Day group
“I’m adding my own brushstroke”… in the Boxing Day collection. Photography: Laura Radford

Last year, he appeared in Michaela Cole’s movie may destroy you, plays Arabella Simon’s friend, a city banker. Coel knew his younger brother from the Spoken Words scene and they clicked: “Me and Michaela, we felt so good.” He outlined in her series what he wanted to do with Boxing Day, broadening the perspective of black British life. “I think Michaela has removed it from the water from a global point of view. This is the first time I’ve seen black British people at work in everyday life. I loved it about I might destroy you.” He puts on a great American accent to explain what he’s talking about: “Oh, they have, like, black people in England?”

Was this question asked in Los Angeles? Not anymore. “We thank Idris Elba.” Laughs. “Idris Elba and Ciel. The Only Two Black Men in England”.

Amin has lived in Los Angeles for over 10 years. The funny thing is that he talks nonstop about London, I say. “Man. I’m my city rep every day. My cousin says this about me. It’s like: Are you what you are? You’re my patriot abroad. He loves London for its multiculturalism.” There’s no place, no city I’ve come across, that [people] We live closely together and are influenced by each other.”

Will he come back? pause. “I try to think of a great answer. But the answer is no. I have a lot of work going on there. I am there a lot. But no. I love the sun; my beautiful black skin loves the sun.”

Boxing Day was released in the UK on December 3