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08/02/2020 13:42 GMT

Cynthia Erivo Reacts To Joaquin Phoenix's Bafta Speech: 'It Meant A Lot To Me'

The Harriet star is the only Black actor nominated in the acting categories for the 2020 Oscars.

Cynthia Erivo praised Joaquin Phoenix for his acceptance speech at the 2020 Baftas earlier this week, in which he criticised the lack of diversity among nominees at the ceremony. 

The Harriet actor said Joaquin was “brave” for making that speech on stage, adding in an interview with Variety that his words “meant a lot” to her.

(Getty Images)
Cynthia Erivo and Joaquin Phoenix

All of the nominees in the Bafta acting categories were white. And in the US, Cynthia is the only Black actor – or actor of colour – who received a nomination for an Oscar in the acting categories, renewing criticism that those selected to vie for various Academy Awards often lack diversity. 

“I think it was time for someone like (Joaquin) to say it, because people like me, the Black girls of the world, the Black men of the world, are saying it consistently, but we’re not always being heard,” Cynthia told Variety. “So maybe it might have taken that to change something.”

Cynthia also told the publication that Joaquin’s speech “meant that someone like him was listening and seeing what is going on and [it] has gotten to the point where he [can’t] pretend it’s not happening anymore.”

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts drew criticism last month after it revealed its all-white acting nominee list.

Cynthia has spoken out against the lack of representation in the acting categories. Last month, she publicly declined an invitation to sing at the Baftas, saying the request was “calling on me as an entertainer as opposed to a person who is a part of the world of film.”

She told author Roxane Gay for The Hollywood Reporter last month that the lack of representation among the Oscar nominees was “saddening.”

Cynthia earned Oscar nods in the Best Actress and Original Song categories for Harriet, which tells the story of heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Joaquin is nominated for Best Actor for Joker.

Already being a Tony, Grammy and Emmy winner, Cynthia could become the youngest person to reach EGOT status ― earning an award at each of the major entertainment industry ceremonies ― if she garners an Oscar on Sunday night. 

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