The Super Bowl isn’t the only big thing going on in the world on Sunday. The 2020 British Academy Film and Television Awards wrapped up a few hours ago and Joaquin Phoenix easily stole the show during his speech for winning the BAFTA Leading Actor prize.
After accepting the award, Phoenix expressed his appreciation for the recognition, but called out the show for not having any actor of color receiving a nomination.
“I have to say that I also feel conflicted because so many of my fellow actors that are deserving don’t have that same privilege,” he began. “I think that we send a very clear message to people of color 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.”
He continued, “I don’t think anybody wants a hand out or preferential treatment, although that’s what we give ourselves every year. I think people just want to be appreciated and respected for their work. This is not a self-righteous condemnation, because I’m ashamed that I’m part of the problem. I’ve not done everything in my power to ensure that the sets I work on are inclusive.”
Phoenix then opened his focus from racism in the film industry to systemic racism in all facets of life.
“It’s more than having sets that are multicultural, I think that we have to really do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism,” he explained. “I think that 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.”
The BAFTAs were criticized for their lack of representation when the nominees were announced in early January. BAFTA CEO Amanda Berry called the nominations “hugely disappointing.”
“It’s clear there is much more to be done and we plan to double down on our efforts to affect real change and to continue to support,” she said, “And encourage the industry on the urgency of doing so much more.”’
Joaquin Phoenix’s speech received praise on Twitter. See what people are saying below.