Following the criticism of the organisers of the Oscar Academy Awards for an apparent lack of diversity in nominations for the second consecutive year, British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo and British-Ghanaian actor Idris Elba have shared their thoughts on the issue, while calling for a change in the mentality of colour in Hollywood.
David Oyelowo, who was ignored at last year’s Oscars after his critically acclaimed depiction of Martin Luther King in the American historical film -Selma, revealed to E! that it’s unforgivable for coloured actors and actresses to be snubbed again this year.
“A year ago, I did a film called Selma, and after the Academy Awards, Cheryl invited me to her office to talk about what went wrong then. We had a deep and meaningful [conversation]. For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of color, actresses of color, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable.”
Similarly, his colleague Idris Elba touched on the subject whilst delivering a speech to the United Kingdom Parliament on Monday, where he explained what diversity really means to him as an actor.
He was quoted as saying: “I’m not here to talk about black people, I’m here to talk about diversity,” Elba said to the Parliament members and press in attendance.
“Diversity in the modern world is more than just skin color — it’s gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, social background, and most important of all, as far as I’m concerned — diversity of thought. Because if you have genuine diversity of thought among people making TV and film, then you won’t accidentally shut out any of the groups I just mentioned.”
The Beast of No Nation star who many felt deserved a nomination for his role in the war crime film, recounted how frustrated he used to be in his budding acting career days about being given scripts that specifically requested for a ‘black male character’.
“None of us are just one flavor or one color. If we were, we’d be one- dimensional,” he said. “And that’s what used to drive me mad as an up and coming actor. My agent and I, we’d get scripts and we were always asked to read the “black male” character. Or ‘the athletic type.’ But when a script called for a ‘black male,’ it wasn’t describing a character. It was describing a skin color.”
Watch Idris Elba delivering his speech to the British parliament on Monday