Howard Charles has his own perspective to add to the conversation about diversity in media. Having spent three seasons as Porthos on BBC One’s The Musketeers, Charles has been part of a groundbreaking movement of greater diversity in period pieces dispelling the myth that old-time Europe was only white.
“For me growing up, I never thought or believed that race or the difference therein would ever hinder me or hold me back. I’ve just thought that I’m focusing on storytelling, being the best reactor that I can be and move forward. It’s only as I’ve become more experienced and started to encounter moments of prejudice, whether it’s subtle or obvious, where it does in fact have an effect on proceedings and decisions and things and it becomes apparent. I think it’s a great thing that I was cast, but I wasn’t cast for the colour of my skin. I’m sure that was a part of the decision but ultimately I believe it was because of what I brought to the table.”
Charles acknowledges the initial resistance his casting caused, but stands strong in the face of nay-sayers.
“There were many people that looked like me back when these stories are set and were penned, and to deny that is… if people want to deny it, whatever, I don’t care. Let them deny it, but facts are facts.”
Charles brought to life a wide variety of strong character moments as Porthos, some of which didn’t make it to the final edit. But his favourite moments are the ones that revealed something significant about the character.
“I like those moments where something leaks and we see what makes this person tick. I’ve certainly had a few over the course of three seasons and I’ve always enjoyed having the opportunity to play them and investigating them and trying to solve character problems. As an artist, we love creative problems, that’s where you want to be. You just want something to be rich enough in the first place to enable you to really bury your teeth and get stuck into that.”
With versatility being the key to many actors having greater success and longevity in their careers, Howard admits an interest in expanding his work to other areas in the film/television industry in addition to acting.
“I’m writing and it’s coming along very nicely. I’ve just been asked to direct something which is in the works. I’ve got great ambitions to direct. I think I’ll be very good at it, I’ve got a very good eye. Film, and TV of course, is a visual medium and that’s certainly something that fascinates me and I believe I excel at. There’s nothing like experience to learn and as I say, evolve. But I’ve just been asked to direct something which is a fascinating script and something that I hope I can actually do. But it’s, again, politics. We’ll see what happens. I’ve signed a letter of intention about that and I’ve got some great ideas which the producers love but we’ll see what happens.”
Charles has even made a move to the States in pursuit of greater opportunities that actors of colour struggle to find in the UK. Throughout all his interviews at MCM London Comic Con, he displays great determination and passion for his work. Finally, he was asked about what he feels is needed to expand the diversity in film and television.
“It has to start on the page. There have to be more parts. There shouldn’t be tokenism and having something for the sake of having it, it should be awarded on merit and there are plenty of good actors out there. I know a lot of wonderful white, black, brown, any other colour you can mention that represent a shade of humanity. I can name an actor in all of them that you may not even know who are brilliant and bring stuff to the table.”
Watch the full interview with Howard Charles above.