BAFTA Awards nominates all-white actors for film categories, then asks Cynthia Erivo to entertain the crowd with song

The British equivalent of the Academy Awards (BAFTA) has come under major scrutiny for nominating only white actors in its lead and supporting categories.

Cynthia Erivo
(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for CNN )

Is BAFTAs so white?

The 2020 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Film Award nominations were announced on Tuesday in London and not a single actor of color was highlighted in any of the lead or supporting actor or actress categories. However, the British Oscars did ask Black actress, singer and songwriter, Cynthia Erivo, if she could come sing during the Feb. 2 awards ceremony, even as they failed to acknowledge her work as the lead actress in last year’s hit movie, “Harriet,” according to Variety.

Erivo’s reps say the Academy asked back in December if she would sing during the show. She held off giving an answer until the nominations were unveiled. Now, Variety is quoting sources that say when BAFTA reached back out to Erivo following the nominations on Tuesday, her team reportedly declined because Erivo wasn’t nominated for her acting.

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And this comes after the BAFTAs promised to push to become more inclusive and diverse back in June 2018.

“Infuriating lack of diversity in the acting noms,” Marc Samuelson, chairperson of BAFTA’s film committee, told Variety about this year’s nominees. “It’s just a frustration that the industry is not moving as fast as certainly the whole BAFTA team would like it to be.”

In separate comments to the PA Media news agency, Samuelson said “We can’t make the industry do something. All we can do is encourage and push and inspire and try to help people coming in at the bottom end.”

On top of the lack of minority diversity, no women were nominated as best director, leaving five white men vying for the title.

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In addition to Erivo, other minority actors snubbed by the BAFTAs include Daniel Kaluuya from “Queen & Slim,” Jennifer Lopez from “Hustlers,” Lupita Nyong’o from “Us,” Antonio Banderas, who starred in “Pain and Glory,” and Awkwafina from “The Farewell.”

What makes this even more troublesome and confusing is Erivo and Kaluuya are British actors.

Awkwafina did receive a nomination in the Rising Star category, but BAFTA failed to acknowledge her work in any of the major categories.