Alfre Woodard, Cynthia Erivo Respond To Joaquin Phoenix's Acceptance Speech On Racism
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Awards , Film , News

Alfre Woodard, Cynthia Erivo Respond To Joaquin Phoenix's Acceptance Speech On Racism

Following Joaquin Phoenix's speech at the BAFTA Awards, actresses Alfre Woodard and Cynthia Erivo are now speaking out.

For those unfamiliar, when Phoenix won the Best Actor award at the BAFTAs on Sunday for his role in Joker, he used his privilege to point out systemic racism in the film and television industry.

“I feel conflicted because so many of my fellow actors that are deserving don’t have that same privilege. 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," Phoenix said. "We have to do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism. I think 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."

In an interview with Variety at Woodard's annual Sistahs Soiree, Erivo expressed what Phoenix's speech meant to her.

"It meant that someone like him was listening and seeing what is going on and has gotten to the point where he can't pretend it’s not happening anymore,” she told Variety. “And to say it in that place, at that time, he was really brave and it meant a lot to me, as a Brit, to hear him say it. I hope it didn’t fall on deaf ears. We never know."

Erivo, who was snubbed by the BAFTAs, is the only Black actor nominated at this year's Oscars. She is nominated for her portrayal of the abolitionist Harriet Tubman in the Kasi Lemmons film Harriet.

Woodard, who was egregiously snubbed for her performance as prison warden Bernadine Williams in the film Clemency, agreed with Erivo's point of view and pointed out how the burden of discussions surrounding inclusion is always forwarded to people of color instead of the gatekeepers of institutional racism in Hollywood.

"I’m glad he did it. I’m glad he said it. And just like he said, ‘We can’t look to the people of color to do it. It’s about us.’ He made a speech that was about him and to his folks. They probably don’t want to hear it; a few in the audience might want to hear it because they think ‘not me,’ so they’re feeling self-righteous about it. But it’s always important to speak the truth just so the history can record that it was spoken in a moment”


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Joaquin Phoenix Uses His Privilege To Call Out Systemic Racism In BAFTAs Speech

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