Joaquin Phoenix called out ‘systemic racism’ at the BAFTAs and the world did not stop spinning
Joaquin Phoenix spoke about white privilege while accepting the BAFTA for best actor, urging the industry to dismantle “systemic racism”.
The Joker star used his acceptance speech to address the BAFTAs’ failure to nominate a single person of colour for any of the night’s top acting awards
“I think that we send a very clear message to people of colour that you’re not welcome here,” he said.
“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.”
Phoenix admitted that he himself is part of the problem, as he has “not done everything in his power” to ensure projects he has worked on we’re fully inclusive.
“But I think it’s more than just having sets that are multi-cultural,” he continued.
“We have to do really the hard work to truly understand systemic racism.”
Lulu Wang, who was nominated for best film not in the English language, said that the speech left the room in an uncomfortable silence.
An uncomfortable silence filled the hall for a long noticeable moment. Thank you Joaquin.
— Lulu Wang (@thumbelulu) February 2, 2020
Viola Davies was one of many who thanked Joaquin Phoenix for his ‘honesty, solidarity and courage’.
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) February 3, 2020
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) February 3, 2020
Many other people of colour were hopeful that the speech marked a turning point in terms of inclusion.
Gwaan Joaquin! Yes aya! Hoping commissioners and financiers take note. Because they are the ones who need to dismantle the system so that diverse productions are set up and diverse stories are told. #EEBAFTAs #BAFTASSoWhite https://t.co/NnHFct2B69
— Campbell X (@CampbellX) February 3, 2020
Congratulations Joaquin Phoenix on winning best performance but also well done for calling out systemic racism! Now that’s how you use your platform! #BAFTASSoWhite #BAFTAs #JoaquinPheonix #MondayMotivation https://t.co/qLpyH2cxlA
— jasminemstewart (@jasminemstewart) February 3, 2020
Joaquin Phoenix calls out systemic racism in the film industry and awards practices in his acceptance speech. I hope his industry listens to his conclusion: that white people have to dismantle the racist practices that they’ve built and profited from. https://t.co/OqMiSYcasc
— viet thanh nguyen (@viet_t_nguyen) February 3, 2020
Also, to every red carpet reporter next weekend who doesn’t ask the white actors and filmmakers about how they can do better.
You are part of the problem. https://t.co/pHHa9aBjsC
— 🍅Jacqueline🍅 (@THATJacqueline) February 2, 2020
The intervention by Phoenix, one of the world’s most celebrated actors, came in stark contrast to remarks made by Laurence Fox, best known for his part in Lewis, which ended in 2015.
Fox became a surprising addition to national headlines in January after telling a Question Time audience-member he was bored of people using “the card of racism”.
Since then, the actor has made media several appearances to promote his Katie Hopkins-lite brand of ignorance, telling The James Dellingpole Podcast that the inclusion of a Sikh solider in 1917 was “institutionally racist.”
Sunday night’s BAFTAs kicked off with a sketch referencing the controversy starring 1917 director Sam Mendes and People Just Do Nothing star Asim Chaudry.
The skit showed Chaudry telling Mendes: “If you do need anymore brown guys for your war films contact my agent, it’s Laurence Fox.”