Who’s afraid of Daniel Kaluuya? According to the actor, that would be the British monarchy. “I’m Black and I’m British,” he explained in his opening monologue during last night’s Saturday Night Live. “Basically I’m what the Royal Family was worried the baby would look like.”
That dig at the royals comes just a few weeks after Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, told Oprah Winfrey that there had been “concerns and conversations about how dark” their son would be when he was born. Kaluuya didn’t dwell on the royals in his monologue, though. The British Ugandan actor swiftly moved on to comparing American and British racism: “Let me put it this way: British racism is so bad, white people left. They wanted to be free—free to create their own kind of racisms. That’s why they invented Australia, South Africa, and Boston.” (As if solely to prove his point, a now-edited headline from the British newspaper The Independent contended that “Kaluuya Lashes Out at Royal Family” in his remarks.)
Kaluuya, who just won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton in Shaka King’s frenetic biopic, Judas and the Black Messiah, has risen to fame in the United States largely for tackling meaty, dramatic roles. Before Hampton, he played one of the titular characters in Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas’s overwrought police-violence saga Queen & Slim, a glowering villain in Steve McQueen’s Viola Davis–led heist film Widows, and, of course, the lead role in Jordan Peele’s genre-revitalizing social thriller, Get Out. But on last night’s SNL, the actor also proved that he’s a formidable comedic talent. In his opening monologue and skits throughout the episode, he showcased a remarkable range that buoyed the entire show—no small feat on a series that consistently struggles with topical humor.