Longtime actor Christopher Judge is becoming an advocate for African American representation within the science fiction and video game communities. As he approached the age of 60, he felt his career was on the decline, finding it harder to land parts in movies and television.
Judge has traditionally been a TV actor who has made appearances in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, 21 Jump Street, and The Dark Knight Rises, but never expected to end up within the world of video games. After voicing the character Kratos in the recent rendition of 2018’s highest-rated PlayStation 4 game, God of War, he is trying to pave the way for more black leads within the entertainment industry.
With his amazing take on the well-known character, he won the top performer prize at The Game Awards in LA, and the best lead performer at the BAFTA games awards in London. In an interview on the BAFTA red carpet, he said, “I grew up looking in the mirror, and society told me I was ugly, told me I was too big, too black.”
He transitioned from college football to acting in the early 1990s, when black actors were often supporting characters and rarely ever leads. His first big role was a Teal’c in the sci-fi show “Stargate SG-1,” which ran from 1997 to 2007.
He was one of a handful of black actors on the show, which was dominated by an overwhelming number of white actors. Having to establish his career in an extremely hostile environment behind the scenes, he “knew when [he] got the gig what was coming with it.” He recently hosted a panel called Elevating Black Voices in Sci-Fi that included many big names within the industry, where he was honest about the hardships of being in a majority-white genre where his voice was often suppressed.
Out of fear of being fired and missing out on other opportunities, he kept quiet about the reality of the business during the early years of his career. He also talked about wanting to fix “what goes on in rooms and on sets.”
God of War’s narrative director, Matt Sophos, faced a substantial amount of backlash after casting Judge to play a character that was historic in Norse mythology. Many people on social media were criticizing him and even using racist language in their responses. There has also been talk of a live-action version of his character being in the works for an Amazon TV show in late 2024, and fans of the series are petitioning to have him replaced by David Bautista despite his success.
Having struggled while experiencing this kind of behavior in many ways throughout his career, he felt that “change always happens slower than we want it to, but [he] thinks it’s so important to always call it out. After setting an amazing example for the next generation of black actors, he looks to continue increasing awareness within the community and advocating for people who have been in a similar position to him.