Thandie Newton believes there is a lack of roles for black actors in the UK because of Brits' obsession with period dramas.

Thandie Newton

Thandie Newton

The 44-year-old actress was born in London, England, but has pursued her career in the US, where she claims to have found on-screen roles easier to come by.

Explaining why she works in the States rather than in England, Thandie said: "I love being here but I can't work.

"I can't do 'Downton Abbey', can't be in 'Victoria', can't be in 'Call the Midwife'. Well, I could, but I don't want to play someone who's being racially abused. I'm not interested in that, don't want to do it."

Thandie bemoaned the lack of diversity in casting for British TV shows.

She said: "I've just quoted shows that are beloved by people and there's no diversity in the casting. It's just a bum-out."

And Thandie doesn't imagine the landscape will change in the foreseeable future, because period dramas remain hugely popular in the UK.

She told the Sunday Times magazine: "There just seems to be a desire for stuff about the royal family, stuff from the past, which is understandable, but it just makes it slim pickings for people of colour."

Thandie, who was born to a British father and Zimbabwean mother, also revealed she has been forced to "struggle against racism and sexism" to establish herself as a star.

She explained: "I'm talented at what I do but I've had to struggle against racism and sexism. But I'm glad, in a way, that I survived and overcame."

In January, meanwhile, fellow British actor Idris Elba - who also left the UK in order to become a star in America - gave a speech in which he urged the British government to promote greater racial diversity on screen.

In his speech, the 'Luther' actor said: "My agent and I, we'd get scripts and we were always asked to read the 'black male' character. Or 'the athletic type.'

"But when a script called for a 'black male,' it wasn't describing a character. It was a describing a skin colour. A white man - or a caucasian - was described as 'a man with a twinkle in his eye.'

"My eyes may be dark, but they definitely twinkle! (Ask the Mrs...) And I was like, 'I wanna play the character with a twinkle in his eyes!'"