British-Nigerian actress Cynthia Erivo has declined an invitation to perform at this year’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards following an all-White nominations list.
Erivo was recently nominated for two Golden Globe awards for her outstanding performance in the biopic Harriet and her original song in a motion picture “Stand Up”.
She said that she would not allow herself or her art be used as a “party trick” in the continued dismissal of performances by people of color at prominent awards shows.
According to People Magazine, Erivo voiced her disappointment saying, “I felt like [the invitation] didn’t represent people of color in the right light. It felt like it was calling on me as an entertainer as opposed to a person who was a part of the world of film, and I think that it’s important to make it known that it’s not something you throw in as a party trick, you know?”
The actress continued saying that, “I work hard and every single person of color who is working in these films this year has worked really hard, and there are many of them who deserve to be celebrated.” The fact that there were no women directors on the nominations list was also a point of contention for the Harriet lead actress.
Following the release of the nominations list, the BBC reports that BAFTA will allegedly carry out a “careful and detailed review” of it’s voting process in light of the glaring lack of diversity. Speaking to Variety about the said review, Erivo concluded saying, “Let’s see how [the review] does, whether it affects next year or the year after who knows, but I definitely think it’s time for change, we can’t overlook it any more.”
However, BAFTA member and actor Nicholas Young, wrote in a letter to the Daily Telegraph commenting on the issue.
The letter read partially as follows: “As a voting member of Bafta, I take exception to the suggestion that my choices are based on anything other than excellence in each respective field.” Young says he voted solely based on excellence and it’s coincidental that no single person of color made the cut.
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