Awards shows need more diversity

Samuel Ogali, Courier Staff

During this year’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts, or BAFTAs, Joaquin Phoenix won the award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Todd Philips’ adaption of the movie Joker, which was honestly one of my favorite movies from last year. But instead of giving the standard ‘Thank You’ speech, Phoenix did something wise and blatantly obvious by calling out the BAFTAs for its lack of diversity and systemic racism.

In all four acting categories that year, no people of color were nominated at all; yes, only white people were. This conversation about a lack of diversity and no inclusion has constantly been brought up in award shows, such as the Oscars. In both 2015 and 2016, no people of color were nominated, prompting outrage and backlash created the term, #OscarsSoWhite. But even when people of color are nominated and even win an award such as an Oscar or BAFTA, it just feels like an award by the critics to justify a lack of diversity the next year by pointing out what they did before, and that’s just not right.

Again, in 2020 the Oscars nominated only one black person and that was Cynthia Ervio for her portrayal as slave abolitionist Harriet Tubman, aside from that the others nominees are white. The Academy of Motion Pictures & Arts snubbed the likes of Lupita Nyong’o for her eerie portrayal in “Us,” even though she was nominated for a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild. As well as, Jennifer Lopez for her portrayal in Hustlers, even though she was also nominated for a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild. It seems like the Oscars really pick and choose, and that’s just not right.

Now the BAFTAs have no people of color nominated this year, when you mention the performances of people like Nyong’o, Lopez, Erivo and more is just unacceptable. Margot Robbie was nominated twice for Best Supporting Actress in Bombshell and Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Robbie is a very talented actress, but being nominated twice for the same category when you can’t even nominate a single person of color is just outrageous.

It even baffled me to discover that, to this day, Denzel Washington has never been nominated for a BAFTA award, which honestly just sounds preposterous. Award shows like the the NAACP Image Awards and BET Awards were created because of a lack of inclusion like this, but in all honesty, awards like an Oscar and BAFTA are still regarded as the grand prize.

Phoenix is a great actor and as I’m writing this, the Oscars haven’t taken place yet, but if he wins Best Actor, which he likely will, I’m curious as to what he’ll say. It’s frustrating and just irritating that more inclusion and diversity has to be talked about at these award shows in 2020.