#BAFTAsSoWhite: British Academy Faces Backlash Over Lack of Diverse Nominees

By
laura dern and margot robbie
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for ELLE

The 2020 EE British Academy Film Awards are very white this year.

Shortly after the nominees for the 73rd annual ceremony were announced, the BAFTAs faced backlash over the lack of diversity among the performers recognized this year. The hashtag, #BAFTAsSoWhite, quickly started trending on Twitter after it became clear that the four acting categories do not include any person of color.

In fact, two white actresses -- Margot Robbie and Scarlett Johansson -- were nominated twice, with Robbie up against herself for Supporting Actress and Johansson competing in the Lead Actress and Supporting Actress categories.

Meanwhile, some of this year’s other contenders, Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name), Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers) and Lupita Nyong’o (Us), were snubbed despite nominations at other awards shows leading up to the BAFTAs.

While not nominated for Lead Actress, Awkwafina is nominated for the EE Rising Star Award, which is voted on by the public. It’s the only truly diverse category with The Farewell star (and recent Golden Globe winner) up against Top Boy actor Michael Ward and Waves star Kelvin Harrison Jr.

The directing category also faced criticism when it was revealed that no women were among the nominees. The snubs for Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Lulu Wang (The Farewell) and other female filmmakers follow the Golden Globes, which hasn’t nominated a woman since Ava DuVernay in 2014.

Following the backlash, Marc Samuelson, chair of BAFTA’s film committee, spoke to Variety about the “infuriating lack of diversity in the acting noms."

“It’s just a frustration that the industry is not moving as fast as certainly the whole BAFTA team would like it to be,” he said. 

The pushback on the nominations is not unlike what the Oscars faced in 2015 and 2016, when it failed to recognize any actors of color. Following the second year, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that they would make "historic" changes to increase diversity, with the goal to double the number of women and "diverse members" by 2020.

While speaking to the Associated Press, Amanda Berry, OBE and Chief Executive of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, said “one of the things that BAFTA can do is create that opportunity” for diversity in front of and behind the camera.

“We've done schemes in the past for female directors. We've decided, looking at the nominations today, we're going to do that again,” she continued. “We've got a scheme running at the moment called Elevate for actors from a wide range of backgrounds. And it's really important to us that we do everything we can to support people to get into this industry. You know, film has the opportunity to tell the stories of the world. But those stories can only be told if people from all backgrounds are working in our industry."

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