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Joaquin Phoenix Admits He’s ‘Part Of The Problem’ Of Systematic Racism At BAFTAs

by : Lucy Connolly on : 03 Feb 2020 10:16
Joaquin Phoenix Admits He's 'Part Of The Problem' Of Systematic Racism At BAFTAsJoaquin Phoenix Admits He's 'Part Of The Problem' Of Systematic Racism At BAFTAsPA Images

Joaquin Phoenix used his acceptance speech at this year’s BAFTAs to call out the systemic racism that exists within the awards system and Hollywood as a whole, admitting he is ‘part of the problem’.

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Phoenix, who took home the award for Best Actor for his role in Joker at the ceremony on Sunday, February 2, wasted no time criticising the body that awarded him the prize for excluding well-deserving people of colour from its nominations.

After saying he felt ‘honoured’ and ‘privileged’ to be there tonight, adding: ‘The BAFTAs have always been very supportive of my career and I’m deeply appreciative’, he said he also felt ‘conflicted’ because ‘so many of my fellow actors that are deserving don’t have that same privilege’.

You can watch his entire speech below:

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The 45-year-old actor was met with a chorus of applause from the audience, for acknowledging the fact that none of the four acting categories – Leading Actor, Leading Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress – recognised a single person of colour.

Phoenix continued:

I think that we send a very clear message to people of colour 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. I think that 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 work on are inclusive, but I think that it’s more than just having sets that are multicultural.

Joaquin Phoenix BAFTAsJoaquin Phoenix BAFTAsPA Images

He went on to say that it’s necessary to ‘really do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism’, saying it’s the ‘obligation of the people that have created and perpetuate and benefit from a system of oppression to be the ones that dismantle it’. He added: ‘So that’s on us.’

As soon as the nominations were announced on January 7, the damning lack of diversity was criticised and the hashtag ‘#BaftasSoWhite’ dominated Twitter in the days following.

Many pointed out how actors such as Jennifer Lopez, who starred in the critically acclaimed Hustlers; Awkwafina, who picked up a Best Actress Golden Globe on Sunday; and Lupita Nyong’o, who starred in Us, all suffered snubs.

AwkwafinaAwkwafinaPA Images
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Shortly after Phoenix’s speech, Prince William took to the stage as president of BAFTA and acknowledged the lack of inclusivity among the nominations in recent years, promising work is being done behind the scenes to improve this going forward.

He confirmed that BAFTA ‘take this issue seriously’ and ‘have launched a full and thorough review of the entire awards process to build on their existing work and ensure that opportunities are available to everyone’.

Hopefully this is the case and next year we will see an overhaul of the current process, to ensure that all those deserving of the nominations will receive the same opportunities as everybody else.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Film and TV, Award Ceremonies, BAFTAs, Hollywood, Joaquin Phoenix, Racism, Systemic Racism

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  2. Metro

    Joaquin Phoenix calls out systemic racism in Baftas speech: ‘I’m ashamed to be part of the problem’