David Oyelowo says his 2014 movie “Selma” was robbed of its chance at Oscars glory by a peeved and prejudiced Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The British-American actor, who was nominated for playing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie, told ScreenDaily Thursday that the cast’s solidarity with protesters after Eric Garner’s death at the hands of a cop on Staten Island rubbed voters the wrong way that year.
“Six years ago, ‘Selma’ coincided with Eric Garner being murdered,” Oyelowo, 44, said. “That was the last time we were in a place of ‘I Can’t Breathe.’ I remember at the premiere of ‘Selma’ us wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts in protest. Members of the academy called into the studio and our producers saying, ‘How dare they do that? Why are they stirring s - - t?’ and ‘We are not going to vote for that film, because we do not think it is their place to be doing that.’ ”
The actor added: “It’s part of why that film didn’t get everything that people think it should’ve got and it birthed #OscarsSoWhite … They used their privilege to deny a film on the basis of what they valued in the world.”
On Twitter, the film’s director Ava DuVernay backed Oyelowo’s account.
“True story,” she said.
In response to DuVernay’s tweet, the Academy wrote: “Ava & David, we hear you. Unacceptable. We’re committed to progress.”
Paramount Pictures said Friday “Selma” will be free to rent on streaming services for the month of June as Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others become more widespread.
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