While appearing on the Tavis Smiley show, Cumberbatch discussed the difficulties faced by black actors in both the U.S. and U.K.
The actor did not, however, seem to know that the word ‘colored’ is an outdated description of blacks. In the U.S., ‘black’ and ‘African-American’ are the two most often used terms to describe blacks.
Discussing actors Idris Elba and David Oyelowo, Cumberbatch observed that the two men have more opportunities open to them in the U.S. than the U.K.
“It’s an even playing field. [These actors] paid their dues for years by just doing beautiful performances,” he said.
“I think as far as colored actors go it gets really difficult in the UK,” he continued.
Cumberbatch apologized profusely after the incident, saying he feels like a “fool.”
“I’m devastated to have caused offense by using this outmoded terminology,” he said.
“I offer my sincere apologies. I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done.”
He added: “I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive.”
The actor then noted the irony of speaking about diversity while using such an antiquated term.
“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.”
“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,” he concluded. “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.”