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Joaquin Phoenix attacks "systemic racism" in film industry at BAFTA Film Awards

The star of Joker says he is "part of the problem"

Joaquin Phoenix
Lia Toby/Getty Images
Published: Sunday, 2nd February 2020 at 9:49 pm

Joaquin Phoenix has attacked "privilege" and "systemic racism" in the film industry in a powerful speech at the BAFTA Film Awards.


Phoenix picked up the best Leading Actor award for his lead performance in Joker, beating Leonardo Dicaprio (Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Taron Egerton (Rocketman) and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes).

BAFTA attracted some criticism last month when the nominations for its 2020 Film Awards saw no people of colour nominated in the acting categories.


In his speech, Phoenix said: “I feel conflicted because so many of my fellow actors who are deserving don’t have that same privilege,” adding that he felt they were “sending a very clear message to people of colour that you’re not welcome here.”

“I’m part of the problem,” he continued. “I’ve not done everything in my power to make sure the sets that I work on are inclusive.

“We have to do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism. It is the obligation of the people who have created and benefit from the system of oppression to be the ones to dismantle it. So that’s on us."

Earlier in the evening, both host Graham Norton and awards presenter Rebel Wilson both made quips aimed at the lack of diversity on show.


Norton called 2019 “the year when white men finally broke through” and referred to Phoenix's film Joker – which led the pack with 11 nominations – as “the story of a white man who makes himself even whiter”.


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