"The Academy Made a Very Loud Statement:" Gina Prince-Bythewood Responds to 'Woman King' Oscars Snub
Gina Prince-Bythewood wrote an THR op-ed on The Woman King not receiving nominations for the 95th Academy Awards.
Gina Prince-Bythewood is flipping the script on The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. On Tuesday (February 7), The Woman King director spoke to journalist Rebecca Keegan of THRabout her sixth theatrical film being shutout of the 95th Academy Awards. Along with The Woman King, 2022 films directed by Black women like Chinonye Chukwu's Till and Alice Diop’s Saint Omer did not receive nominations.
Prince-Bythewood questioned why The Woman King and other Black women-directed films like Till and Saint Omer were slighted by Academy voters, although the films fulfilled qualifications to be Oscar-nominated.
“The Academy made a very loud statement, and for me to stay quiet is to accept that statement,” Prince-Bythewood said. “So I agreed to speak up, on behalf of Black women whose work has been dismissed in the past, is dismissed now like Alice Diop and Saint Omer, Chinonye Chukwu and Till — and for those who haven’t even stepped on a set yet.”
She continued, "The Woman King wasn’t snubbed. A snub is if it missed out on a category or two. The film was not nominated for one single craft. Not one single extraordinary performance was recognized. And when has that happened for a successful film that hit all the so-called markers? It’s not a snub. It’s a reflection of where the Academy stands and the consistent chasm between Black excellence and recognition. And, sadly, this is not just an issue in Hollywood but in every industry. I’m going to use a Dr. King quote because it is so apropos, in that he spoke on the “lie of [our] inferiority accepted as truth in the society dominating us.”
She went on to share that her non-Black industry peers expressed that they initially weren't interested in seeing The Woman King, deeming it unrelatable.
“We, Black women, do not get that same grace. So the question we need to ask is, ‘Why is it so hard to relate to the work of your Black peers?’" Prince-Bythewood asked. "What is this inability of Academy voters to see Black women, and their humanity, and their heroism, as relatable to themselves?”
Despite their critically-acclaimed roles in The Woman King and Till, respective leads Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler were not nominated in the Best Actress category. In THR, Prince-Bythewood indirectly referenced the To Leslie campaign that helped actress Andrea Riseborough receive a spot in the category.
“My issue with what happened is how people in the industry use their social capital—screenings in their homes, personal calls, personal emails, personal connections, elevated status,” Prince-Bythewood explained. “People like to say, ‘Well, Viola and Danielle had studios behind them.’ But we just very clearly saw that social capital is more valuable than that. That type of power is exercised in more casual ways in social circles, where folks are your friends or your acquaintances.”
She concluded, "There may be diversity on your sets but not in your lives. And Black women in this industry, we don’t have that power. There is no groundswell from privileged people with enormous social capital to get behind Black women. There never has been,” she concluded.