After the Oscar nominations were announced, many noticed that the nominations were lacking diversity. There were no African Americans nominated in any major acting categories, and prominent female directors Angelina Jolie and Ava DuVernay were left off of the Best Director list.
Actress Jessica Chastain, who was also snubbed for Best Supporting Actress for A Most Violent Year, was honored at the Critics Choice Awards for MVP for her four performances of 2014. Although she took the time out to thank the appropriate people, for the latter half of her speech, Chastain used her platform to speak about the diversity that’s not being recognized within the industry.
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“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.”
She continued, “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.”
During her speech Oprah and Ava DuVernay were clearly impressed as they clapped for the star as she accepted her award. Many took to Twitter to commend Chastain, but now the actress is coming forward to explain just how many racist comments she had to deal with after her brave speech.
In an interview with CBS news, Jessica said, “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.”
She used the interview to clear up the intention behind her speech. While some took away that Chastain was only addressing the awards, the actress said that the awards reflect a bigger issue within the industry.
“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.”
Previously to her Oscar snub, Jessica Chastain was nominated for two Academy Awards, one for The Help and another for Zero Dark Thirty.