It’s Not A Party Trick: Cynthia Erivo Declined Performing At The BAFTA Awards Because Of Lack Of Diverse Nominees

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25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards - Arrivals

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Despite enslaving millions of Africans and colonizing most of the world, the United Kingdom has long pretended that racism is not an issue for them, that it’s an American problem. But the way the British treated Meghan Markle debunked that ludicrous farce.

In addition to the treatment of Ms. Markle, there was an additional discussion about racism when the nominations for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts were announced. There was very little diversity, aside from the Asian actors and filmmakers nominated for The Farewell and the Korean film Parasite.

Not a single Black person nominated.

Despite the British Academy’s decision not to recognize any Black people, they wanted one of them to perform for them.

The Academy tapped actress and singer Cynthia Erivo, who portrayed historical figure Harriet Tubman in the film Harriet, to sing during the ceremony.

But Erivo, who very could have been nominated at the evening’s festivities, declined.

In an interview with Extra, Erivo explained why.

“I felt like it didn’t represent people of color in the right light. It felt like it was calling on me as an entertainer as opposed to a person who was a part of the world of film. And I think that it’s important to make it known that it’s not something that you throw in as a party trick, you know? I work hard and every single person of color who is working in these films this year has worked really hard, and there are many of them that deserve to be celebrated…and no women directors, I was just like…’C’mon.”

Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, Erivo was nominated for two Academy Awards. One for her song “Stand Up” featured in Harriet and another for best actress for her portrayal of the legendary historical figure. In speaking about the nominations, in a statement to CNN, Erivo wrote:

“To receive two Oscar nominations for a film paying tribute to Harriet Tubman, a person whose heart and spirit are the embodiment of courage, makes this morning’s news beyond anything I could have ever imagined. This is more than a dream come true. When I got the opportunity to play this incredible woman. I felt truly honored that Kasi [Lemmons, the film’s director] and our producers saw fit to have me play the part; being asked to co-write and perform the song in the film was the icing on an already wonderful cake. I continue to feel overwhelmed with gratitude today to the Academy for recognizing my performance and our song ‘Stand Up’.”
Still, Erivo was the only woman of color nominated for an acting award this year. And there is still outrage about the lack of diversity, particularly for Black people, in the Academy’s choices this year.
You can listen to Erivo’s Extra interview in the video below.

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