David Oyelowo Calls Out Oscars For Only Recognizing 'Subservient' Black Roles

by Jackie Willis 10:26 AM PST, February 02, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

David Oyelowo gave a bold answer as to why he was passed over for an Oscar nomination for his critically acclaimed role as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma.

"Generally speaking, we as black people have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders or kings or being at the center of our own narrative, driving it forward," he said of his snub while at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival this weekend.

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Oyelowo, who was nominated for a Golden Globe, further commented that he thought Denzel Washington deserved to win an Oscar when he was nominated in 1992 for his role as Malcom X. He also noted that Sidney Poitier didn't get nominated for his iconic performance as authoritative figure Virgil Tibbs in the 1967 film In The Heat of the Night. Instead, the legendary actor won for Lillies of the Field where he played an itinerant handyman who builds a church for a group of nuns. 

"We've just got to come to the point whereby there isn't a self-fulfilling prophecy, a notion of who black people are, that feeds into what we are celebrated as, not just in the Academy, but in life generally," the 38-year-old actor proclaimed. "We have been slaves, we have been domestic servants, we have been criminals, we have been all of those things. But we've been leaders, we've been kings, we've been those who changed the world."

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ET caught up with Oyelowo this past month at the 2015 Critics' Choice Awards, and the actor was pretty positive about a change to more diversity in the entertainment industry. "These things happen," he said of his Oscars snub. "The prize for me is that this film is resonating so beautifully with audiences."

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