Since Selma star David Oyelowo’s puzzling snub by the Academy Awards and Selma’s Ava DuVernay being left out of the Best Director category, we were waiting to hear what Oyelowo would say. Even throughout the rest of the awards season, where Oyelowo was very present due to other nominations, for the most part, the actor kept silent.
Now, Oyelowo says that Hollywood has a “white guilt” problem. During an appearance at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Oyelowo said awards will come for Black performers who are a part of productions that are “subservient.”
“We, as black people, have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders or kings or being at the center of our own narrative.”
He continued, “We’ve just got to come to the point whereby there isn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy — a notion of who black people are — that feeds into what we are celebrated as, not just in the Academy, but in life generally. We have been slaves, we have been domestic servants, we have been criminals, we have been all of those things. But we have been leaders, we have been kings, we have been those who changed the world.”
Then the Selma star went on to point out a narrative that’s accepted in Hollywood. Although he doesn’t name specific movies like The Blind Side or The Help, it’s hard not to think that he has them in mind when speaking of the only narrative that Hollywood seems to be okay with rewarding.
“So you have a very nice white person who holds black people’s hands through their own narrative.”
That said, films like Lee Daniels’ The Butler and 12 Years a Slave being financial successes at the box office lead to Selma getting made in the first place. Although 12 Years a Slave showed Black people being subservient, in the end, it helped Martin Luther King Jr.’s story get to the big screen. After those successes, Selma was backed by Paramount Pictures.
As far as being at the center of the snub, David said, “What is it like to be the subject of Oscar snub outrage? Are you like, ‘Yeah, people get angry that I wasn’t nominated’ or do you want to tell people ‘It’s OK, I’m gonna be all right. I’d say to people ‘Calm down; it’s gonna be fine,’ ” then he whispered, ‘Be angry! Be angry!” Only to switch back to a calm voice, ‘It’s OK.’”
What do you think about the Selma star’s thoughts?