American actor, Joaquin Phoenix, gave a surprising and powerful acceptance speech at this years BAFTA awards. BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) nominated Phoenix in the Best Leading Actor category for his role in Joker. The film has earned over one billion dollars since its release last October. In his acceptance speech he expressed his gratitude for the award but understood that his white privilege gave him an advantage in the film industry. Many of his minority colleagues are denied the same advantage due to systematic racism.
“I feel very honored and privileged to be here tonight. BAFTA has always been very supportive of my career. But I have to say that I also feel conflicted because so many of my fellow actors don’t have that same privilege. I think that we send a very clear message to people of color that you’re not welcome here. I don’t think anybody wants a handout or preferential treatment, although that’s what we give ourselves every year. I think that people just want to be acknowledged, appreciated for their work.” Phoenix stated. He went on to say that he is aware that he hasn’t done more to ensure that there was more diversity in his work environment. The sets he previously worked on needed to improve on being more inclusive.
Recently British actress Cynthia Ervio, who received critical acclaim for her portrayal of abolitionist Harriet Tubman, boycotted the BAFTA’s. The Tony and GRAMMY award winning actress declined an invitation to attend the BAFTA ceremony this year because no black actors had been nominated. She felt that while they called on her to be an entertainer, they were not recognizing her as a person or what she contributes to the world of film. Ervio is nominated for two Academy Awards this month and Phoenix is nominated for Best Actor. The Joker film is nominated for 11 Oscars as well.
The 92nd annual Academy Awards will air on Sunday February 9th, 2020 at 8pm.