Diversity's Black Lives Matter dance wins BAFTA Must See Moment as Ashley Banjo dedicates award to those who complained
The performance came after mass protests around the world last summer.
Dance troupe Diversity has been awarded a BAFTA for Virgin Media's Must See Moment of 2021, for their powerful performance of a routine partly inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.
The evocative dance took place at the Britain's Got Talent 2020 semi-finals last September, following a summer that had been defined by protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The performance had been the subject of controversy, with 24,500 viewers making complaints to broadcast regulator Ofcom, but these were ultimately dismissed.
The routine is framed as a father telling his son about the events of 2020 and touches upon several major news stories from the year, including the coronavirus pandemic and cases of police brutality.
"It means so much, thank you to everyone that stood by us," said lead dancer Ashley Banjo in the troupe's acceptance speech. "You guys made the difference to what was a dark time being in the storm of 30,000 complaints [and] a torrent of racially charged abuse, threats, all of it."
"And in a way, I have to say thank you to the people that complained – to the people that did put all of that abuse out there online – because you showed the truth. You showed exactly why this performance and this moment was necessary.
"But to all of those people, just take a look because this – as much as there is so many conversations and so much that needs to change – this is what change looks like and I’m so proud to be standing here.
"This represents the majority," he added. "Let’s keep having those difficult conversations and let’s keep standing up for what's right regardless of the colour of our skin and we will achieve that equality."
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In September 2020, after the complaints had been filed, Ofcom issued a statement defending Diversity's work, describing it as "a call for social cohesion and unity".
Ofcom said: "Any depictions of violence by the performers were highly stylised and symbolic of recent global events, and there was no explicit reference to any particular political organisation – but rather a message that the lives of black people matter."
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In a press conference held after the ceremony, Banjo added: "This is a chance for the public to speak up. The support was [already] overwhelming, but to have won a BAFTA for the performance shows me that the British public support it and they support us, and that we did the right thing."
Fellow dancer Jordan Banjo, brother of Ashley, revealed that he was nervous before performing the routine, with particular concern over whether it would get the "right reaction".
However, he went on to say that Ashley himself was more nervous tonight, as the troupe anxiously awaited word on whether they had secured the prestigious BAFTA prize.
The Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards 2021 took place on Sunday 6th June. Looking for something to watch? Check out our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.