6. Earl Cameron
Earl Cameron, CBE is a Bermudian actor. Along with Cy Grant, he is known as one of the first black actors to break the “colour bar” in the United Kingdom. With his appearance in 1951’s Pool of London, Cameron becomes the first black actor to take up a starring role in a British film.
According to Screenonline, “Earl Cameron brought a breath of fresh air to the British film industry’s stuffy depictions of race relations. Often cast as a sensitive outsider, Cameron gave his characters a grace and moral authority that often surpassed the films’ compromised liberal agendas.”He also had repeated appearances on many British science fiction programmes of the 1960s, including Doctor Who, The Prisoner, and The Andromeda Breakthrough. His next major film role following his work in Pool of London was in the 1955 film Simba. In this drama about the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, Cameron played the role of Peter Karanja, a doctor trying to reconcile his admiration for Western civilisation with his Kikuyu heritage.
That same year Cameron played the Mau Mau general Jeroge in Safari. From the 1950s to the present day, Cameron has had major parts in many films, including: The Heart Within (1957), in which he played a character Victor Conway in a crime movie again set in the London docklands; and Sapphire (1959) in which he played Dr Robbins, the brother of a murdered girl; and The Message (1976) – the story of the Prophet Muhammad. Cameron has had roles in a wide range of TV shows but one of his earliest major roles was a starring part in the BBC 1960 TV drama The Dark Man, in which he played a West Indian cab driver in the UK.
The show examined the reactions and prejudices he faced in his work. In 1956 he had a smaller part in another BBC drama exploring racism in the workplace, A Man From The Sun, in which he appeared as community leader Joseph Brent, the cast also featuring Errol John, Cy Grant, Colin Douglas and Nadia Cattouse.