It’s not uncommon for actors and other creators who win televised awards to use their time at the podium as a time to speak out against a particular social issue they feel deserves the spotlight. When Joaquin Phoenix won the award for Best Actor at this year’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards, which aired on Sunday night, the Joker actor used the time to discuss the systemic racism of the Hollywood system, holding himself and other privileged people within the industry accountable for making the filmmaking system a more inclusive place.
The speech was in part a reaction to the fact that no people of color were nominated in the BAFTAs four film acting categories.
Here is the speech in full:
“I feel very honored and privileged to be here tonight. The BAFTAs have already been very supportive of my career and I’m deeply appreciative. But I have to say that I also 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. 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.
“I don’t think anybody wants a handout or preferential treatment — although that’s what we give ourselves every year. People just want to be acknowledged, appreciated and respected for their work.
“This is not a self-righteous condemnation because I’m ashamed to say that I’m part of the problem. I have not done everything in my power to ensure that the sets I was on are inclusive.
“But I think it’s more than just having sets that are multi-cultural. We have to do really the hard work to truly understand systemic racism.
“I think it is the obligation of the people that have created and perpetuate and benefit from a system of oppression to be the ones that dismantle it. So that’s on us.”
Phoenix used his Golden Globes acceptance speech to call out fellow nominees for their casual use of private jets in a time when taking more definitive action on climate change is necessary should we want to curb some of the devastating consequences that have already begun.