×

WATCH: ‘Selma’ Star David Oyelowo Says Academy Prefers ‘Subservient’ Black Roles

Selma” star David Oyelowo addressed the controversy over the film’s Oscar snubs at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on Sunday, admitting that he believes “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.”

Oyelowo noted that this has been borne out in previous Oscar results, admitting, “To me, Denzel Washington should have won for playing Malcolm X,” and adding that he believed Sidney Poitier should have been awarded his Oscar for “In the Heat of the Night” (for which he wasn’t even nominated) rather than for “Lilies of the Field.”

Though “Selma” is among the eight nominees for best picture, Oyelowo and the film’s director, Ava DuVernay, were not recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which drew ire across the Internet. Variety‘s Brent Lang noted that the Oscar nominations displayed “a stunning lack of diversity.”

“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 are celebrated as. Not just in the Academy, just in life generally,” Oyelowo said. “We have been slaves, we have been domestic servants, we have been criminals, we have been all of those things. But we have been leaders, we have been kings, we have been those who changed the world.”

The British thesp argued that films where a black protagonist drives the narrative are “so hard to get made. People have often said to me, ‘Why has it taken so long?’ [King] was assassinated almost 50 years ago. There has been no film where Dr. King has been the center of his own narrative up until now. That’s because up until ’12 Years a Slave’ and ‘The Butler’ that 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. So you have a very nice white person who holds black people’s hands through their own narrative… We don’t want to see that pain again, so you don’t even go into what that pain was in an authentic way. Both of those things are patronizing to the audience. You can’t have people curating culture in this way when we need to see things in order to move forward from them.”

Oyelowo cited “12 Years” and “The Butler” as pics that changed the narrative for black characters onscreen, in large part due to their commercial success. “I know for a fact that ‘Selma’ got greenlit after both of those films made almost $200 million each,” he said. “I know that because Paramount said to us, ‘Well, that means that ‘Selma’ will probably make around $98 million, so let’s make it!’ But bless them for doing it — I love you Paramount, I love you, I love you. But that’s just the truth of the matter is that up until now it’s been so hard to get these films made, but now they’re doing well internationally and critically and otherwise.”

Watch Oyelowo at the Santa Barbara Film Festival below.

More Film

  • Idris Elba Netflix 'Turn Up Charlie'

    Idris Elba in Talks to Join Andy Serkis in 'Mouse Guard'

    Idris Elba is in negotiations to join Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Fox’s fantasy-action movie “Mouse Guard” with “Maze Runner’s” Wes Ball directing. Fox is planning a live-action movie through performance capture technology employed in the “Planet of the Apes” films, in which Serkis starred as the ape leader Caesar. David Peterson created, wrote, [...]

  • Zac Efron Amanda Seyfried

    Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried Join Animated Scooby-Doo Film as Fred and Daphne

    Zac Efron has signed on to voice Fred Jones while Amanda Seyfried will voice Daphne Blake in Warner Bros.’ animated Scooby-Doo feature film “Scoob.” It was revealed earlier this month that Will Forte had been set to voice Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, while Gina Rodriguez would be voicing Velma Dinkley. The mystery-solving teens and their talking [...]

  • 'Staff Only' Review: Cultures And Values

    Film Review: 'Staff Only'

    Marta (Elena Andrada) is 17, from Barcelona and alternately bored and mortified to be on a Christmas vacation to Senegal with her estranged dad, Manel (Sergi López), and annoying little brother, Bruno (Ian Samsó). For her, the freedoms of imminent adulthood, such as the occasional poolside mojito, are tantalizing close but still technically forbidden, rather [...]

  • Rocketman

    Candid 'Rocketman' Dares to Show Elton John as 'Vulnerable,' 'Damaged,' 'Ugly'

    Elton John movie “Rocketman” dares to portray the singer’s personality early in his career to have been, at times, “ugly,” Taron Egerton – who plays the pop star – told an audience at London’s Abbey Road Studios Friday, following a screening of 15 minutes of footage from the film. It is a candid portrayal, showing [...]

  • Ben Affleck

    Ben Affleck's Addiction Drama Set for Awards-Season Release

    Warner Bros. has given Ben Affleck’s untitled addiction drama an awards-season-friendly release date of Oct. 18. The film, which has been known previously as “The Has-Been” and “Torrance,” is directed by Gavin O’Connor and stars Affleck as a former basketball player struggling with addiction, which has led to him losing his wife. As part of [...]

  • Jordan Peele'Us' film premiere, Arrivals, New

    Jordan Peele Explains the Meaning Behind the 'Us' Michael Jackson Reference

    Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Us” is filled with pop culture references, from “Jaws” to “Goonies.” But the most divisive might be right in his opening sequence. Warning, minor spoilers ahead. The movie about a couple (played by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) and their children being hunted and brutalized by a mysterious family that looks just [...]

  • Swiss Film Award Winners Led By

    ‘Those Who Work,’ ‘Chris the Swiss’ Top 2019 Swiss Film Awards

    Two debut features in writer-director Antoine Russbach’s “Those Who Work” and Anja Kofmel’s animated documentary “Chris the Swiss,” were the big winners at Friday night’s Swiss Film Awards, notching three plaudits each. Sold by Be For Films, “Those Who Work,” stars Belgian actor Olivier Gourmet, who has appeared in every single film by Jean-Pierre and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content