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Selma's David Oyelowo Says Academy Favors 'Subservient' Black Roles

Selma's David Oyelowo Says Academy Favors 'Subservient' Black Roles

Rosamund Pike keeps it classy while arriving at the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Virtuosos Award Ceremony held at Arlington Theater on Sunday (February 1) in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The 35-year-old actress was joined at the event by Selma‘s David Oyelowo and Whiplash‘s J.K. Simmons as they were all honored with the Virtuosos Award, which was created to recognize a select group of actors who have distinguished themselves through performances in film this past year.

The day before, Michael Keaton suited up to attend his Modern Master Award Ceremony alongside his son Sean Douglas and Multiplicity co-star Andie MacDowell.

David just recently talked about how he believes the Academy favors “subservient” black roles after being snubbed for an Oscar. “No, look, historically — this is truly my feeling; I felt this before the situation we’re talking about and I feel it now — 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.”

FYI: Rosamund is wearing a Erdem Resort gown. David is wearing Dolce&Gabbana.


David Oyelowo Says Academy Favors ‘Subservient’ Black Roles

15+ pictures inside of Rosamund Pike and others at the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival

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  • Utope

    He’s absolutely right. It’s the same with women though, the Academy prefers to nominate those who play wives or mothers and are subservient. Few strong female roles get rewarded, same as with black actors and actresses – they are usually only rewarded if they play subservient roles.

  • Benny Ehud

    THIS IS WHAT I SAID ON THIS SITE AND GOT INTO A SPAT WITH ANOTHER!!

    I hope they read this!!

  • Curt Noydb

    IN other words ie failed miserably but he deserves and Oscar because he is black and everyone else is a racist. Stuff it. I want back the 26.50 I spent taking my wife to see your ridiculous movie.

  • Lee

    I wouldnt call Denzel in Training Day subservient…..

  • sydney jane

    Didn’t Jamie Foxx win for Ray…and Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland? I don’t think those were subservient roles. Hey, I’m black and I like to play the race card as much as anyone else (and I agree that nominations for black women, in particular, seem to be on the subservient side). But, sometimes you just don’t get the nom. Better WHITE actors than David Oyelowo haven’t received nominations in the past. Better movies than Selma have been snubbed. Geez.

  • FerCat

    If Idris Elba had an Oscar worthy role this season he would be nominated because he has charisma like Denzel, Forest and Jamie.

  • Cosmic Cow

    Also, Louis Gossett Jr. won for playing a sergeant in An officer and a gentlemen.

  • Jana500

    Not subservient but characters in difficult or challenging circumstances. Perhaps those roles are meatier and harder to portray effectively. Perhaps those characters are those audiences and AMPAS find themselves drawn to and cheer on. I’m thinking Sophie’s Choice, The King’s Speech, The Imitation Game, A Single Man, A Beautiful Mind and on and on. Characters in peril or struggling are roles that stand out.

  • https://twitter.com/thedreadofpenny Penny Dreadful

    Wow, he’s totally right. I HATE all the focus on race, and racial divisions, and using race to play a victim card, so I generally have not commented on the situation David is speaking of (the so-called “snubbing” of Selma), but he’s on the mark here.

  • https://twitter.com/thedreadofpenny Penny Dreadful

    That was a mercy Oscar. He SHOULD have won for Glory AND for Malcom X, but the Academy screwed him both times. By the time Training Day came along they almost HAD to give him something. Training Day is not even CLOSE to being his finest performance or even in the top 5 of his finest performances.

  • fleur

    You don’t think MLK qualifies as a character who faced difficult and challenging circumstances?!

    David is contrasting leaders such as MLK with other recent parts for black people, where they have been either a) in a position of subservience (12 Years A Slave, The Butler, The Help) or b) shunted aside in their own narrative (The Help again!).

    He’s saying that the Academy will toss the occasional bone to black actors playing +/- powerless victims, but they still can’t cope with revolutionary figureheads, i.e. people who presented a real threat to the status quo, like Malcolm X or MLK.

    Your list of films in which you root for the underdog: every single protagonist is white. The reason you can’t come up with examples with PoC is because far too few exist. And that is why David Oyelowo is angry as f*ck about his Oscar snub.

  • Jana500

    No. Dr. King was never victimized nor let himself become a victim. He was always a strong person and he made sure he was seen as a strong person in control – even when he was in jail.

    “Your list of films in which you root for the underdog: every single protagonist is white”

    Well, duh! That was the point. Your claim being that only subservient or victimized blacks are honored with noms or awards – or as you put it “thrown a bone.” My point being that it is the type of character that AMPAS likes to reward that garners noms and wins – not the actor’s color. Read my post again and maybe you’ll get my point about those roles.
    Not sure how you can fit Denzel’s noms and his win or Morgan Freeman’s into powerless victims. Or Don Cheadle or Will Smith. Forest Whitaker sure as hell wasn’t powerless. Nor was Jamie.
    Griping isn’t going to help him in future. Plenty of very worthy actors have missed out on noms and wins – some better than him. He just comes off sounding like a sore loser.

  • fleur

    Please don’t tell me to read your post again – it’s condescending and really makes the person you’re talking to feel like crap.

    ‘Griping isn’t going to help’ reminds me of ‘black people should pipe down and be polite if they want to be listened to,’ i.e. respectability politics. It’s using the threat of not listening (because white people have the power to ignore what PoC are saying) to shut down anger and any discussion of injustice.

    I really do get that you’re looking at this through the lens of individual performances and actors – and I don’t deny your examples of strong black men who’ve been nominated (though I’d argue that Hotel Rwanda and Cry Freedom are different because they aren’t about the USA’s racial history, and the point D.O. is making is that America is still struggling to confront its own past – just look at its hypocrisy during the Apartheid regime).

    A few months ago I might have looked at this and thought the same thing – grumpy loser, loads of great actors have been missed off the noms list. But I think when a PoC points out that an issue is racialized, it’s our responsibility to listen.

    (Edit: I made the assumption that you’re white – forgive me if I’m wrong!)

  • fleur

    By the way, I don’t mean to accuse you of using respectability politics; I wanted to point out that PoC are under so much pressure to be amenable, charming, and above all *not* *angry* (i.e. not a threat to the system), so while you were looking at things from a non-racial p.o.v., I wanted to bring your comment into that broader context.

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