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Joaquin Phoenix praised for calling out ‘systemic racism’

Culture Desk | Published: 23:44, Feb 03,2020

 
 

US actor Joaquin Phoenix poses with the award for a Leading Actor for his work on the film ‘Joker’ at the BAFTA British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London on February 2, 2020. — AFP photo

Joaquin Phoenix has received praise for using his Baftas speech to call out ‘systemic racism’ in the film industry.

Phoenix collected the best actor award for The Joker on Sunday, and his comments followed an outcry about the all-white acting nominations line-up.

‘I think that we send a very clear message to people of colour that you’re not welcome here,’ he said.

Actress Viola Davis and director Lulu Wang, who made The Farewell, were among those to applaud him on Twitter.

While no women were nominated for best director for the seventh year in a row, Wang was at the London ceremony after The Farewell was nominated for best film not in the English language.

Davis, who won a Bafta award in 2017 for her role in Fences, thanked Phoenix for his ‘honesty, solidarity and courage’.

Other figures from the film and TV industries were quick to applaud the actor for telling some hard ‘facts’.

Alma Har’el, who directed 2019 film Honey Boy, tweeted: ‘Correct me if I’m wrong but this is the first time... In a long time... I see a white man uses the stage he’s given to say what we all need to hear.’

She added: ‘We mostly hear women speak up and this is encouraging and will help our work. Thank you Joaquin.’

Yvette Nicole Brown, known for starring in TV shows including Community, posted: ‘Tell the truth then, Joaquin!’ followed by a series of hand-clap emojis.

Shameless and The Walking Dead writer LaToya Morgan added: ‘This is how you use your time & platform. Well said, Joaquin. Well said.’

British stand-up comedian Tez Ilyas wrote: ‘Thank you Joaquin for articulating how many people feel and aren’t able to express.’

Phoenix, who had previously been nominated for The Master, Gladiator and Walk the Line, is favourite to win best actor at the Oscars next Sunday.

Writer and broadcaster Hanna Ines Flint said she now wants to see him ‘put his words into action’.

The Duke of Cambridge, who is president of Bafta, also spoke at the ceremony about the need for change, noting that the organisation ‘takes this issue seriously’.

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