“Selma” Cast Got Backlash By Oscars For Protesting Eric Garner’s Death


The Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the globe is not just about police brutality , justice for George Floyd, and the many other Black people killed by police, but also about systemic racism and lack of representation — which, of course, includes Hollywood.


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In a recent interview, Selma actor David Oyelowo opened up about the backlash he and the cast faced after protesting Eric Garner’s death in 2014.


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“Six years ago,” he said during Screen Talks’ live Q&A series, “Selma coincided with Eric Garner being murdered. That was the last time we were in a place of ‘I Can’t Breathe.'”


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Like George Floyd, “I can’t breathe” were Eric Garner’s last words before he was killed by police in New York City.

“I remember at the premiere of Selma us wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts in protest,” he continued.

“Members of the Academy called in to the studio and our producers saying, ‘How dare they do that? Why are they stirring S-H-I-T?’ and ‘We are not going to vote for that film because we do not think it is their place to be doing that.’”


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The Academy of Motion Pictures is the organization behind the Oscars aka the Academy Awards.

“It’s part of why that film didn’t get everything that people think it should’ve got and it birthed #OscarsSoWhite,” he continued. “They used their privilege to deny a film on the basis of what they valued in the world.”


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Though the film — which received critical acclaim and currently holds a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes — was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars in 2015 and won Best Original Song, it was snubbed in all other categories including Best Director and Best Actor. In fact, all four acting categories that year were dominated by only white actors.

Selma‘s director Ava DuVernay confirmed the backlash they received with a simple tweet: “True story.”

The Academy — who, like many other organizations, shared a message of solidarity amidst the George Floyd protests — responded to Ava and David’s remarks on Twitter and said that they were “committed to progress.”

Ava & David, we hear you. Unacceptable. We’re committed to progress. @ava #DavidOyelowo https://t.co/1LoriTfYva

It’s worth noting that the Oscar nominations this very year were, once again, criticized for their lack of inclusivity — only one person of color was nominated out of all four acting categories.


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Cynthia Erivo received a Best Actress nomination for her role in Harriet.

So, to the Academy, I’ll believe it when I see it.

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