David Oyelowo can’t overlook the fact that the Academy has snubbed non-white actors for the second year in a row.
According to multiple media reports, Oyelowo spoke at the King Legacy Awards where he presented Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs an honor named for Rosa Parks, noting that he was left out of last year’s Oscar nominations after playing Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma.”
“The Academy has a problem,” he said. “It’s a problem that needs to be solved.”
In his speech, he admitted that he met with Boone Isaacs to discuss the snub over his role in “Selma.”
“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,” he added. “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.”
Of the Academy, Oyelowo said that it “doesn’t reflect its president and it doesn’t reflect this room. I am an Academy member and it doesn’t reflect me, and it doesn’t reflect this nation.”
Oyelowo continued to remind the audience that the two current biggest box office performers are films led by black men.
“We have a situation whereby currently the biggest movie in the world and of all time is led by a black man,” he said of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” “That film was knocked off the top spot this weekend by a film led by two black men, ‘Ride Along 2.’ The biggest TV show on the planet is led by black people, ‘Empire.'”
And while he urged quick change — after all, the Oscars are fast approaching — he also urged support for Boone Isaacs in trying to bring about that change.
“The Academy is an institution in which they all say radical and timely change cannot happen quickly,” he said. “It better happen quickly. The law of this country can change in a matter of months. It better come on. The Oscars is on February 28. Cheryl needs us to pray that by that date, change is going to come. We need to pray for Cheryl, we need to support Cheryl, we need to love Cheryl. We cannot afford to get bitter. We cannot afford to get negative. But we must make our voice heard.”