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Joaquin Phoenix Calls Out Systemic Racism in BAFTA Acceptance Speech

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In his speech accepting his British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for best leading actor for his performance in Joker, Joaquin Phoenix said the film industry must dismantle a “system of oppression” that has stifled people of color in the arts and entertainment industry.

In a speech that lasted just over two minutes, Phoenix said he was honored and “privileged,” but also felt “ashamed” that people of color are not offered “that same privilege.”

“I feel conflicted because so many of my fellow actors that are deserving don’t have that same privilege. I think that we send a very clear message to people of color that you’re not welcome here,” Phoenix said. “I think that’s the message that we’re sending to people that have contributed so much to our medium and our industry and in ways that we benefit from.”
Phoenix was responding directly to the BAFTA Awards, which did not nominate any people of color in the four major acting categories.
“I don’t think anybody wants a handout or preferential treatment, although that’s what we give ourselves every year,” Phoenix continued. “I think people want to be appreciated and respected for their work.”
Phoenix said he understands that he is “part of the problem.”

“I have not done everything in my power — not all sets I’ve worked on are inclusive,” he added.

Phoenix is also up for an Academy Award in the US, which has also come under fire for a lack of diversity in its nominations.