Daily US Times, London: Actor Joaquin Phoenix received praise for calling out film industry’s ‘systemic racism’ in an acceptance speech at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday.
The actor got the best actor award for The Joker. His comments came amid an outcry about the all-white acting nominations line-up.
In a bold statement, he said: “I think that we send a very clear message to people of color that you’re not welcome here.”
Many in the industry including actress Viola Davis and director Lulu Wang, who made The Farewell, were among those to applaud Phoenix on Twitter.
Davis thanked Phoenix for his “honesty, solidarity and courage”. The actress won a Bafta award in 2017 for her role in Fences.
For the seventh year in a row, no women were nominated for the best director for Bafta award.
Many others from the TV and film industry also applauded the actor for his statement.
Director of 2019 film Honey Boy Alma Har’el tweeted: “Correct me if I’m wrong but this is the first time… In a long time… I see a white man uses the stage he’s given to say what we all need to hear.”
The Duke of Cambridge, who is president of Bafta, also spoke at the ceremony about the need for change, noting that the organization “takes this issue seriously”.
Phoenix called out the film industry’s ‘systemic racism’ in front of Duke of Cambridge Prince William, who is president of Bafta. William spoke at the ceremony about the need for change, noting that the organization “takes this issue seriously”.
Full speech of Joaquin Phoenix
I feel very honored and privileged to be here tonight. The Baftas have already been very supportive of my career and I’m deeply appreciative. But I have to say that I also feel conflicted because so many of my fellow actors that are deserving 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 think that’s the message that we’re sending to people that have contributed so much to our medium and our industry and in ways that we benefit from.
I don’t think anybody wants a handout or preferential treatment – although that’s what we give ourselves every year. People just want to be acknowledged, appreciated and respected for their work.
This is not a self-righteous condemnation because I’m ashamed to say that I’m part of the problem. I have not done everything in my power to ensure that the sets I was on are inclusive.
But I think it’s more than just having sets that are multi-cultural. We have to do really the hard work to truly understand systemic racism.
I think it is the obligation of the people that have created and perpetuate and benefit from a system of oppression to be the ones that dismantle it. So that’s on us.