Joaquin Phoenix received the best leading actor award at the British Academy Film Awards on February 2, 2020. As he received his award he gave a scathing speech that called out the film industry on it’s biases.”We send a very clear message to people of color, that you are not welcome here. I think thats the message were sending to people who have contributed so much to our medium and our industry and in ways that we benefit from.” said Phoenix
Phoenix is shining the light on an ongoing problem in the film industry. In 2016 the Oscars were called to task when an #OscarsSoWhite movement/boycott was started. In that year all 20 actors nominated in the lead and supporting acting categories are white.
The biases that exist in the film industry are engrained in the fabric of white supremacy. Phoenix addresses this in his speech “We have to really do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism.” he said. He also mentions he has been part of the problem.
The Oscars seemed to be headed down the same road this year when the nominees were being announced for the 92 annual show. Cynthia Erivo quickly shifted that narrative with her best actress nomination for Harriet. That helps the Oscars avoid the shutout but still does not fully address the lack of diversity. Many actors have require inclusion riders in their contracts to address diversity on the set before they take roles. This is a direct response to business as usual and holds studios accountable.
Actors and actresses like Ben Affleck, Frances Mcdermott, Matt Damon and Michael B. Jordan have all adopted this practice to create a more equitable and fair industry. On March 7, 2018 Michael B Jordan announced from his instagram that his company Outlier Society would be adopting the inclusion rider. “In support of the women & men who are leading this fight, I will be adopting the Inclusion Rider for all projects produced by my company Outlier Society. I’ve been privileged to work with powerful woman & persons of color throughout my career & it’s Outlier’s mission to continue to create for talented individuals going forward.” posted Jordan
Take a look at Jaoquin’s speech below.
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