Cynthia Erivo Responds to All-White BAFTA Acting Nominees: ‘It’s Time for Change’

Cynthia Erivo has responded to the recent BAFTA nominations, which yielded entirely white nominees in all the major acting categories.

At the red carpet premiere for her new HBO show “The Outsider,” Erivo started off by saying how disappointed she was by the lack of diversity in the BAFTA noms, which snubbed her for her performance in the critically acclaimed feature “Harriet.”

“It’s disappointing to see that we’ve got to this point in time and we’ve had such wonderful advancement in inclusion and diversity, and the films this year were beautiful, such wonderful stories told, and to not have that represented in an awards show like the BAFTAs is just disappointing really,” Erivo said.

After the noms were released, Variety reported exclusively that Erivo had been asked to perform at the show by the British Academy, even after she didn’t receive a nomination. Erivo turned down the offer.

“The reason I didn’t perform is because I don’t think it’s proper representation, as a woman of color, of people of color in this industry,” she said.

Earlier today, BAFTA announced they were launching a “careful and detailed review” of the voting process, but Erivo isn’t certain as to what positive results that review might yield.

“Let’s see how (the review) does, whether it affects next year or the year after who knows, but I definitely think it’s time for change, we can’t overlook it any more,” she said.

Turning her attention to her character in “The Outsider,” Erivo described the very specific vision she had for her character, Holly, going into the shoot.

The limited series (an adaptation of the Stephen King novel) stars Erivo as an unconventional investigator who helps out Ben Mendelsohn’s detective in a murder case in which Jason Bateman’s character is the main suspect. Holly encourages Ralph (Mendelsohn) to “believe the unbelievable.”

“There’s such specificity in the way that she thinks and she speaks, and I think it was written in already, and I really wanted to live in her,” Erivo said. “I know I wanted her to have long braids, it felt beautiful, I knew I wanted her to have a button up collar and chinos and boots because I wanted her to feel normal in her uniform, compared with the fact that she isn’t uniform in her thinking. She’s so far to the left in the way she thinks, I wanted her to be centered when you saw her.”

Many of the other cast members present at the red carpet praised director and star Jason Bateman, who several characterized as the driving force behind the project.

When asked to compare “The Outsider” to the myriad other Stephen King adaptations, Bateman said Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” was a significant touchstone for him in directing the series.

“I was trying for ‘Shining’ in that there’s a certain kind of horror that exists in some of Stephen King’s books and there’s a certain kind of dread in others. This aligned better with the dread, the impending doom of the ‘The Shining,’ the moody, atmospheric kind of stuff,” Bateman said. “I’m a huge Kubrick fan composition-wise and in terms of lighting, he was a huge inspiration for me.”

Mendelsohn himself was unavailable to attend due to illness. However, much of the show’s cast attended, including Paddy Considine, Julianne Nicholson, Yul Vazquez, Jeremy Bobb, Marc Menchaca, Max Beesley, and Derek Cecil.

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