Friday 28 October 2016

David Harewood condemns lack of on-screen diversity amid Oscars race row

Published 30/01/2016 | 13:51

David Harewood has weighed in to the row over the Oscar nominations
David Harewood has weighed in to the row over the Oscar nominations

Homeland star David Harewood has said that the lack of on-screen diversity reminds him of growing up in 1970s Britain as he weighed in to the Oscars race row.

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The British screen and stage star likened the Academy Awards to golf in being "exclusive, privileged, immaculate and predominantly white" but said he was not sure a boycott would change anything.

Harewood, 50, had previously tweeted that Academy Award nominees should turn up to the February 28 ceremony in "blackface" make-up as a protest.

Writing in the Guardian he reflected on running with his siblings to get in front of the television in the 1970s for a rare appearance by a black actor, who was usually in a small role, only on-screen for a short time and often killed off.

He wrote: "These days, the range of parts on offer to black actors in Hollywood has expanded, but, as we approach another Oscars ceremony without a single non-white acting nomination - and a chorus of protests from the likes of Michael Caine, Charlotte Rampling and now Clint Eastwood to the effect that black actors should stop whining - my childhood experience still rings true."

No black and minority ethnic (BAME) actors have been recognised in the lead and supporting Oscar categories.

Will Smith, who stars in American football drama Concussion, Idris Elba from Beasts Of No Nation and Michael B Jordan, star of Creed, are among the black actors who have not been nominated.

In a tweet after the Oscar nominations were announced earlier this month, Birmingham-born Harewood said: "As a sign of solidarity with their breathren, I suggest all nominees turn up to the this year's Oscar ceremony in blackface. #OscarsSoWhite".

In his Guardian piece on Saturday he wrote that seeing black actors like Halle Berry and Jamie Foxx winning Oscars was like seeing the great West Indies cricket team play England in his childhood, "our representatives on TV claiming rightful recognition for their brilliance".

But he added: "In general, the Oscars isn't like cricket, it's more like golf: exclusive, privileged, immaculate and predominantly white. Just like most of the movies in the cinemas.

"What the Oscars debate crystallised for me was that there was a growing number of people, all over the world, black and white, who see that there is something not quite right about the images we constantly see - that people are often missing from the picture.

"This isn't just about the awards, and it has nothing to do with being patient; nor is it, as some have suggested, racist to white people. People of colour are simply not being given the opportunity to compete to be the brightest or the best."

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