Baftas Risk Becoming Irrelevant

Filmmaker Steve McQueen feels that the BAFTA Awards will lose their credibility if they do not diversify.

When the nominees for the 2020 BAFTA Awards were announced last week the British Academy of Film and Television Arts received much criticism for having no women in the Best Director category for the seventh year in a row and for the lack of non-white performers in the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress lists.

McQueen – who has won two BAFTA Awards for his films “Hunger” and “12 Years a Slave” respectively – is “fed up” with the lack of diversity in the nominations and has called on BAFTA to address the issue or run the risk of being redundant to up-and-coming British filmmakers and actors.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, he said: “After a while you get a bit fed up with it. Because if the BAFTAs are not supporting British talent, if you’re not supporting the people who are making headway in the industry, then I don’t understand what you are there for. If (film-makers) are not recognised visually in our culture, well what’s the bloody point? It becomes irrelevant, redundant and of no interest or importance. End of.”

McQueen, 50, suggested that the BAFTAs risk becoming like the Grammy Awards, which have been accused of snubbing black talent and have become less and less credible.

He said: “Unless the BAFTAs wants to be like the Grammys, which is of no interest to anyone, and has no credibility at all, then they should continue on this path. If not then they have to change. Fact.”

Meanwhile, Broadway and movie actress Cynthia Erivo – who starred in McQueen’s film “Widows’ – has turned down an opportunity to perform at the ceremony on February 2 in protest over the lack of diversity amongst the nominees.

Speaking to “Extra”, Erivo said: “I felt like (the invitation) didn’t represent people of colour in the right light.

“It felt like it was calling on me as an entertainer, as opposed to a person who was a part of the world of film, and I think that it’s important to make it known that it’s not something that you just throw in as a party trick, you know?”

The Tony-winning star added: “I work hard and every single person of colour who is working in these films this year has worked really hard, and there are many of them who deserve to be celebrated. And no woman directors? It was just like, ‘C’mon’.

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