Wentworth Miller is of African American, Jamaican, German, English, Russian, Dutch, French, Syrian, and Lebanese descent. In a 2004 interview with the Guardian about the film human strain (which follows the story of “a light-skinned African-American man who decides to ‘pass’ as white to facilitate a life and career that would otherwise be unavailable to him in 1940s America”), Miller has declared:
“There were a number of things that I automatically understood about this character. ‘Passing’ is not something that crossed my mind. On the other hand, being of mixed race, you have this question, ‘Well, maybe I don’t have to answer to any particular community, since I’m not really part of any particular community. racial lone ranger.”
In a 2017 interview with Interview Magazine, Wentworth discussed growing up as a mixed-race man and his identity: “To be honest, it wasn’t something I looked into very closely until I came to in college, which I think is what college is all about: self-examination and dealing with these questions: ‘Who am I?’”
When asked if this self-examination caused her anxiety, Miller replied, “If it did, it was because other people were trying to define me and my own journey. There is a quote that I refer to often from Toni Morrison. Beloved, that is to say that “the definitions belong to the definers and not to the defined”. The nice thing about growing up in Brooklyn is that due to the rich cultural and racial diversity there, no one seemed to think too much about my place on the racial spectrum. But there were times when I ran into someone who wanted to know what race was. It would be a surprise, and in some cases, like a slap in the face.”
He explained how his identity played into his game, “Well, the backstory of any mixed-race person is a lifetime of being misperceived and choosing to either allow that misperception to continue or fix it, so I’m aware of identity and race as being much more fluid, I think, than someone who is “purely” one thing or the other. And acting challenges me to resolve those particular problems.