Critics have hit out at BAFTA for failing to live up to its new plans to respect diversity, pointing out that it failed to nominate either Morgan Freeman or Denzel Washington for an award this year.
Indeed, what’s more embarrassing for BAFTA is that neither Freeman nor Washington has ever been nominated for a BAFTA, quite apart from winning one.
Both actors have notched up more than 30 years in the film business and won numerous accolades from other organisations – including an Oscar (two in the case of Washington) – but remarkably BAFTA has never considered either man a contender for a mainstream award.
Washington was given a BAFTA Britannia award for excellence in film in 2007, but this type of honour is distinct from being nominated for performance in a particular film.
The pair both appeared in films during 2016. Washington directed and starred in Fences; Freeman appeared in London Has Fallen.
In a blog post about this, Sasha Stone, editor of awardsdaily.com, wrote:
“The BAFTAs Have Never Nominated Denzel Washington or Morgan Freeman, why Not? Racism, in terms of film awards (because it’s easier to talk about in other ways) is really more about preference. They prefer white actors. On the other hand, they nominated Viola Davis, Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali. Ava DuVernay’s 13th also gets a nod in documentary and Bradford Young, I think, becomes the first African American to get a cinematography nomination there (British Remi Adefarasin – won for Elizabeth won). You’d think if they were purely racist these nominations would be all white across the board. But you have to admit that it’s bizarre that they’ve never nominated Denzel Washington, arguably one of the greatest actors alive? Never. Not one time…”
She goes on:
“…if I were BAFTA I’d be wondering about Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. I would lay awake nights wondering about that – especially considering their recent diversity proclamation. Ironic, isn’t it?”
BAFTA’s new rules, which come into effect in 2019, promise to promote “Under-represented groups in the film industry [including] people from minority ethnic backgrounds, disabled people, women and LGBT. It also includes people from lower socio-economic groups.”