Joaquin Phoenix Calls out Systemic Racism at the BAFTAs 2020

The actor’s speech was met with applause. 

2 min read

Joaquin Phoenix has been collecting laurels at the award ceremonies this year. The BAFTAs was no different as he won the Best Actor for Joker. However, his speech wherein he criticised the body that awarded him met with a roaring applause.

Joaquin began by saying that he felt conflicted by his victory “because so many of my fellow actors who are deserving don’t have that same privilege”.

He added: “We send a very clear message to people of colour that ‘you’re not welcome here.’”


The all-white acting nominees announced by BAFTA last month created a huge uproar, with the hashtag #BaftasSoWhite trending, and some fearing this year’s ceremony might face a boycott.

“I don’t think anybody wants a handout or preferential treatment. People just want to be acknowledged and appreciated and respected for their work.”
Joaquin Phoenix, Actor

“I’m ashamed to say that I’m part of the problem, because I’ve not ensured that the sets I’ve worked on are inclusive. We have to do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism. It is the obligation of the people who have created and benefit from the system of oppression to be the ones to dismantle it. So that’s on us,” the actor continued.

Reacting to Phoenix’s speech, filmmaker Lulu Wang tweeted, “An uncomfortable silence filled the hall for a long noticeable moment. Thank you Joaquin.”

In his closing remarks, Prince William, BAFTAs’ president, alluded to the controversy, saying that, not for the first time, “we find ourselves talking again about the need to do more to ensure diversity in the sector and the awards process. That simply cannot be right in this day and age.”

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