He's tired of awards only going to folks who play slaves, so he had to say it
I'm so glad an actor finally had the guts to say this.
You may recognize this guy.
He's an actor named David Oyelowo and plays the role of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the box office hit "Selma."
In case you haven't seen the film, it tracks an epic 54-mile civil rights march, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., trailing from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The purpose was to drum up support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which allowed black people the right to vote without being discriminated against.*
So far, "Selma" has won Best Original Song for "Glory" at the Golden Globes and was nominated in the same category at the Oscars, along with Best Motion Picture of the Year.
So, what's the problem?
David, the star of the film, was totally snubbed by the Academy.
He didn't receive a nomination, recognition, or even a head nod.
Some may say, "Well, lots of films get nominated while some stars don't."
But unfortunately for black actors, this has become an all too familiar pattern during awards season. In this case, lots of people were outraged that David was not among the nominees.
So when asked at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival what it feels like to "be the subject of Oscar snub outrage," he took a deep breath and responded with:
Then the actor gave these chilling examples:
Denzel Washington in "Malcolm X"
"To me, Denzel Washington should have won for playing Malcolm X. ... To me, if I ask you all of you here what film do you think Sidney Poitier won his Academy Award for? 'In the Heat of the Night.' He wasn't even nominated for 'In the Heat of the Night.' He won for 'Lilies of the Field.'"
"We just have 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 are 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 have been all of those things, 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."
Hmmm, very interesting stuff. To hear more of David's thoughts, check out this video:
*Clarification: While the 15th Amendment in 1870 technically prohibited the restriction of voting rights "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude," state and local laws effectively denied black people the right to vote until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was enacted.