The star of Selma has slammed the Oscars for rewarding only ‘subservient’ roles for black cast members in films.
David Oyelowo, 38, plays Martin Luther King Jr in the film which charts the American civil rights leader’s three month campaign in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 to persuade President Lyndon B Johnson to introduce the Voting Rights Act, protecting African-Americans’ right to vote.
Oyelowo spoke out at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival after he was snubbed for an Oscar nomination for his role despite being lauded by critics.
‘Generally speaking, we as black people have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders or kings or being in the center of our own narrative, driving it forward,’ he said.
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David Oyelowo, 38, said during a talk at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival: ‘Generally speaking, we as black people have been celebrated more for when we are subservient’
Oyelowo, 38, plays Martin Luther King Jr in the film which charts the American civil rights leader’s three month campaign in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 to persuade President Lyndon B Johnson to introduce the Voting Rights Act, protecting African-Americans’ right to vote
The British actor added in a video filmed by the ‘We’ve just got to come to the point whereby there isn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy, a notion of who black people are that feeds into what we’re celebrated as — not just in the academy, just in life generally. We have been slaves, we have been domestic servants, we have been criminals. We’ve been all those things.
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‘But we’ve been leaders, we’ve been kings, we’ve been those who change the world. And those films, where that is the case, are so hard to get made.’
‘Why has it taken so long?’ I mean, [King] was assassinated almost 50 years ago,’ he said.
‘There has been no film where Dr. King has been the center of his own narrative until now. That’s because up until 12 Years a Slave and The Butler did so well, both critically and at the box office, films like this were told through the eyes of white protagonists because there is a fear of white guilt.’
Red carpet: David Oyelowo at the premiere of Selma in December 2014 with his wife Jessica
Left to right: Niecy Nash, Common, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo attend the ‘Selma’ and the Legends Who Paved the Way gala at Bacara Resort in December
‘So you have a very nice white person who holds black people’s hands through their own narrative.’
Selma has been nominated in the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Original Song.
At the festival Oyelowo defended Benedict Cumberbatch and said that the row over his use of the word ‘coloured’ actually damaged the debate about racism.
He said that it was a mistake to just ‘focus on one word’ and that as a result everyone ended up ‘ignoring’ the fact that Cumberbatch was talking about how hard it is for black actors to get roles.
Cumberbatch made his gaffe last week in an interview on American TV and afterwards said he was ‘devastated to have caused offence’.
Oyelowo said he only believes Selma was possible because film companies noticed the box office success of films such as 12 Years A Slave (pictured)
Oyelowo said: ‘Everyone has ended up ignoring the issue Benedict was talking about and focusing on that one word.
‘It’s actually stopped us (from) talking about race’.
In Britain, Amanda Berry, the head of Bafta has said the lack of a Bafta nomination was not a ‘racist snub’.
Ms Berry said in an interview with the Observer it was because its release was too late to make the shortlist for the awards, which will be handed out at a ceremony next weekend.
Oyelowo said ‘it would have been nice’ if the film was nominated, 온라인카지노 while on the red carpet at the Curzon Mayfair in London for Selma’s premier last week.
But Ms Berry, Bafta’s chief executive, said: ‘I get quite upset when people say it was a racist snub. The film wasn’t delivered until the end of November and there were only three screenings before the voting started. Last year we flew David in to present and we absolutely recognised his talent.’
Benedict Cumberbatch described black people as ‘colored’. Oyelowo said that it was a mistake to just ‘focus on one word’ and that as a result everyone ended up ‘ignoring’ the fact that Cumberbatch was talking about how hard it is for black actors to get roles. Above, the actor during his TV interview
Asked how he felt about the lack of recognition, Oyelowo said: ‘You’re going to have to ask Bafta about that. I don’t know, it would have been nice.
‘But the fact of the matter is the film is really resonating with audiences. It’s great to be back here in the UK premiering the film.
‘I did my bit.’
Ms Berry also told the paper the film industry should be as diverse as possible amid an ongoing debate about opportunities for actors from ethnic and working class backgrounds.
‘It is essential the industry is open to all. The industry we work in has to reflect the society we live in. That is really important,’ she said.
‘There is a perception that if you are from an ethnic background you have no chance. Our new Breakthrough Brits talent event allows anyone to nominate a star of the future and then we give them a year of mentoring.’
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