Alan Cumming finally felt his Scottishness was valued in New York

·2 min read
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 29:  Scottish-American actor, author, and activist Alan Cumming attends a photocall at Edinburgh International Book Festival on August 29, 2015 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  (Photo by Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images)
Alan Cumming attends a photocall at Edinburgh International Book Festival, 2015 (Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images)

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Alan Cumming says when he lived in London he felt prejudice from Londoners for being Scottish.

Talking to Kate Thornton on the White Wine Question Time podcast, Cumming says: "Being Scottish in London there's some subliminal – and also sometimes, not subliminal – racism. It's a class thing as well."

"Assumptions are made about your intelligence, your education, your worth, because of how you sound. It's not just us, it's other people. It's not just Scottish people, of course, but I've definitely felt it."

The Perthshire-born star, who is a supporter of the SNP, says he bolstered his social circle in London with fellow Scots in response to feeling like an outsider.

"When I first moved to London, I used to sort of have a little group of Scottish actors and other Scottish friends I would see," he explains. "And then when I went to America, I didn't have that. And I wondered, why not?"

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"And I think it's because but you need a little support group when you first come down. It's quite a difficult city. And when I went to New York, all the things that I had been reminded of in London: of my Scottishness, my difference, the way I sounded, in a slightly negative way... it was subliminal, and then maybe not a bit, but it was definitely there. And it weighed you down. 

"All my life, I'd felt that Scottishness was a little 'less than'. I don't feel that. But that's what the world told me. 

Listen to the full episode to hear Alan tell Kate Thornton why he won't just take any job that comes along and the story of his disastrous first flight to work in America

"But when I went to New York, all those things I was lauded and celebrated for, and so I think that made me feel: 'Oh, I do have a place at the table.'"

He talked to Thornton about the impact of this realisation on him.

Read more: Alan Cumming says ‘Hollywood saved me’ from feeling suicidal

He said: "I just learned to trust myself. There's definitely something about feeling that all the things I used to think were a potential problem are actually positives! So you feel like, all these years, I was sort of skulking around, I didn't need to and I think I was too conscious of other people's opinions."

But it: Baggage: Tales from a Fully Packed Life by Alan Cumming | £13.04 (Was £15.19) from Amazon

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