BAFTA President Prince William gave the opening speech at the 73rd British Academy Film and Television Arts Awards this past weekend. And, the Duke of Cambridge wasn’t happy about the lack of diversity among the nominees this year.
Prince William told the audience that he and his wife Kate Middleton were delighted to be a part of the BAFTAs so they could celebrate another year of exceptional filmmaking. And, he’s thrilled that all of those involved have been recognized.
The future King of England continued by saying that the UK and many other countries around the world are lucky to have incredible filmmakers, actors, producers, directors, and technicians who are men and women that come from all backgrounds and ethnicities. However, he was concerned about the lack of diversity in the BAFTA nominations.
“Yet in 2020, and not for the first time in the last few years, we find ourselves talking again about the need to do more to ensure diversity in the sector and in the awards process – that simply cannot be right in this day and age!” said Prince William.
He added that Pippa, the Chair of BAFTA, and Amanda, the BAFTA CEO, share his frustration, and they continue to work to make sure creative talent is discovered and supported. Prince William then announced that there would be some changes moving forward.
“BAFTA takes this issue seriously, and following this year’s nominations have launched a full and thorough review of the entire Awards process to build on their existing work and ensure that opportunities are available to everyone,” said William.
BAFTA announced their nominees in January, and they immediately faced backlash because all of the acting nominees were white, and all of the directing nominees were male. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Emma Baehr – BAFTA’s director of awards – said they would have liked more diversity in the nominations this year, but it continues to be an “industry-wide issue.”
Baehr said that more films need to be made and entered into the nominating process so people have a chance to see them. She added that her organization would like to see more diversity, but she didn’t want to take away from the people they were celebrating at this year’s awards ceremony.
When accepting his award for Best Actor, Joaquin Phoenix also noted the lack of diversity among the nominees. The Joker star admitted that he felt conflicted because so many of his fellow actors that are deserving don’t have the same privilege that he has, and a very clear message has been sent that people of color aren’t welcome at the BAFTAs.
“I don’t think anybody wants a handout or preferential treatment, people just want to be acknowledged, appreciated and respected for their work,“ said Phoenix. “This is not a self-righteous condemnation. I’m part of the problem.“
Joaquin Phoenix concluded his speech by saying that we have to do the hard work to understand systemic racism. And, he believes it’s the obligation of the people who have created, perpetuated, and benefited from a system of oppression to dismantle it.