He called on film industry to dismantle the systematic racism he tagged as “system of oppression.”
Joaquin Phoenix who took audience by surprise with his outbursts, criticized the lack of diversity among the nominated creators and performers this awards season, saying the issue could no longer be ignored.
Phoenix said that while he felt “honoured” to be in attendance and appreciated the support from the BAFTA organization, he was “ashamed” that actors of colour were not afforded the “same privilege.”
“I 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 colour that you’re not welcome here,” he said onstage at the Royal Albert Hall.
“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 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,” Joaquin Phoenix continued.
“I have not done everything in my power to ensure that the sets I work on are inclusive, but I think it’s more than just having sets that are multicultural. We have to do 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,” he concluded.
While there’s nothing new in what he has said, as same thing Keep repeating itself year in year out, in terms of nominations to these awards, his colleagues have applaud his boldness to speak for the minority non-white actors and actresses. This also includes gender equality in terms of equal representations in nominations between male and female actors, producers, and all.
Director Bong Joon Ho, also addressed questions on diversity, saying:
“I’m not sure if I’m necessarily contributing to the diversity of the BAFTAs or the Oscars because I’ve been creating films for the past 20 years. It’s a huge honour to be invited to these events.
From the various efforts we put in, I think naturally we will come to a day where we do have diversity whether it’s about gender, sexuality or people of color,” said the South Korean director.
Also speaking on the issue after scooping the Best Actress BAFTA, Judy star Renée Zellweger added, “I’m grateful there are more female storytellers out there. I think it was the president of BAFTA who said content should reflect society more completely, I agree with that.”