Top Boy star Ashley Walters has said he has been “pushed apart” from Noel Clarke over the years because the two actors “represented the same thing”.
The two London-born stars have known each other for almost 20 years but said it took a long time for them to make a TV series together.
Walters, who broke out in 2004 film Bullet Boy, told the Press Association: “We were always trying to find moments when we could work together and for whatever reason we’ve always been pushed apart.
“We couldn’t be in the same show, because we represented the same thing… and there could only be one black guy.”
The duo are now due to star in a buddy copy series on Sky One, called Bulletproof.
Walters added: “We went through all of that and so now to have this opportunity to join forces, it’s more than powerful.
“It’s going to be a powerful show, but it’s powerful for the industry, it’s powerful for what it represents and it’s going to open a lot of doors for the newcomers.”
Clarke, the creator of films Kidulthood, Adulthood and Brotherhood, said he thinks there is now more opportunity in the industry for diverse actors.
He said: “There’s more opportunity now yeah. Definitely. But again that comes down to – I’m not going to try and be humble about it – things that Ashley has done, things that I’ve done.
“There’s no Kidulthood and stuff like that without Bullet Boy, there’s no Attack the Block (starring John Boyega) without Kidulthood.
“There’s a lot of people doing things now that we love and respect and we’re proud of them, but it all comes back to certain places – and what we achieve all comes back to the people before us. And it’s important that people recognise that.”
He added: “When I was young you couldn’t be a main character in a show – you had to be a sidekick, but now there’s people that people can look up to and aspire to be.”
Referring to the characters he and Walters play in Bulletproof, he added: “In the playgrounds you can be ‘I’m going to be Bishop’ or ‘I’m going to be Pike’, you don’t have to be the sidekick, so hopefully this opens the doors for a lot of people in the future to lead shows.
“We’re leading the show, the show we created, which is not even a tiny web series.
“We’re leading a show that we created, which is unheard of in this country, which is shameful. So you’ve got to look at it glass is half full – it’s shameful, but it’s a great thing and it leads to more.”
Bulletproof premieres on Sky One on May 15.