David Oyelowo claims Academy members refused to vote for ‘Selma’ following premiere protests
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David Oyelowo claims Academy members refused to vote for ‘Selma’ following premiere protests

David Oyelowo has claimed members of the Academy refused to vote for his 2014 movie “Selma” after the cast protested the death of Eric Garner at the film’s premiere.

David Oyelowo poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere for the film ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’, in central London, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

During a virtual discussion as part of Screen Daily’s Screen Talks series on Thursday, the British actor discussed the recent support for the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the shocking death of unarmed African-American man George Floyd, and recalled how Selma, a drama in which he starred as Martin Luther King Jr., was negatively impacted by the cast and crew taking a stand against police brutality and racism.

At the New York premiere of the film, Oyelowo, director Ava DuVernay and the entire cast – including Tessa Thompson and Colman Domingo – wore black T-shirts bearing the message “I Can’t Breathe” to stand in solidarity with African-American man Garner, who uttered those words during his arrest, shortly after which he died.

And as a result of their actions, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who vote for the Oscars, allegedly sabotaged its awards season chances.

“Selma coincided with Eric Garner being murdered,” he said. “I remember at the premiere of Selma us wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts in protest. Members of the Academy called into the studio and our producers saying, ‘How dare they do that? Why are they stirring S-*-*-T?’ and ‘We are not going to vote for that film because we do not think it is their place to be doing that.'”

“It’s part of why that film didn’t get everything that people think it should’ve got and it birthed #OscarsSoWhite,” continued Oyelowo, referring to the social media campaign addressing the lack of diversity in the nominations. “They used their privilege to deny a film on the basis of what they valued in the world.”

DuVernay shared the quotes on her Twitter account and added, “True story”.

The film, which told the story of protest marches calling for African-Americans to be given the right to vote, received two Oscar nominations – Best Picture and Best Original Song – and won the latter.

– Cover Media


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