Actress Jessica Chastain Slammed For Diversity Speech At Critic’s Choice Awards

January 23, 2015  |  

Recently, Jessica Chastain won the 2015 Critics’ Choice Awards Most Valuable Player award. Once she took the stage to express her gratitude for receiving the award, Chastain also gave recognition to what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 86th birthday. E!Online reports Chastain stated in her speech:

“Today is Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, so it got me thinking about our need to build the strength of diversity in our industry, and to stand together against homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic and racist agendas. I’m an optimist and I can’t help but feel hopeful about the future of film, especially looking at all of the beautiful people in this room. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ And I would like to encourage everyone in this room to please speak up. Thank you.”

Because of her beautiful speech, Chastain shared during a CBS News interview, she received backlash: “I’ve had really terrible people who are racists comment on the speech and say really terrible things. I’m understanding that some people in this world, how much hate they can have.”

 Many of Chastain’s critics linked her speech to the recent announcement of the 2015 Oscar nominations that snubbed the Ava DuVernay film, Selma. Chastain claimed that was not her intention to focus on the Oscars but to shed light on the entertainment industry’s lack of diversity.

“Some people had taken my speech and then made it about awards, like SAG Awards or Oscars. That’s not what my speech was about,” she said. “To me awards are just a reflection. It’s just a symptom of the disease and the disease is in the industry. If we had more diversity in our films it would be reflected in diversity in the nominees.”

Chastain claims she will continue to fight for diversity expansion in Hollywood because if she does not, she will become a part of the problem.

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