It’s no secret that Selma was snubbed in this year’s Oscars nominations: The movie was nominated for best picture, but neither the film’s director nor the lead actors got nods for their work, igniting a storm of controversy over the lack of diversity in the nominations this year.
But David Oyelowo, who plays Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, went further than pointing out a lack of diversity. During an appearance at the Santa Barbara International Film festival, he called out a far more pernicious problem that Hollywood has in general.
At his appearance, he spoke about the Selma snub. Oyelowo pointed out that awards shows and the larger film industry tend to tell stories about black people only through the eyes of white people. “So you have a very nice white person who holds black people’s hands through their own narrative,” he said.
“No, look, historically — this is truly my feeling; I felt this before the situation we’re talking about and I feel it now — generally speaking, we, as black people have been celebrated more for when we are subservience, when we are not being leaders or kings or being at the center of our own narrative.”
“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, but in life generally. We have been slaves, we have been domestic servants, we have been criminal, we have been all of those things. But we have been leaders, we have been kings, we have been those who changed the world,” he continued.
Oyelowo has been open about the problems that Hollywood has with racism. “It’s because films like Selma are so rarely made that we end up putting them under the microscope,” he told The Guardian. “One, maybe two, a year. As a white person, you don’t have that. You have the gamut. No one says to Oliver Stone: ‘Another film about Vietnam? White characters again?’ Benedict Cumberbatch is never asked, ‘What you’re playing another historical character?'”
Too bad we won’t hear Oyelowo give an Oscars speech this year. Bet it would have been incredible.
(Image via The Guardian)