White reporter defends herself after confusing Daniel Kaluuya with Leslie Odom Jr.

"I’m sorry you assume I can’t tell these two talented men apart."

A journalist for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has defended herself against mockery and criticism after mistaking Daniel Kaluuya for Leslie Odom Jr. Gardiner

The embarrassing moment occurred while Margaret Gardiner was in the press room covering the Oscars for the U.K.’s Sunday Times. During Kaluuya’s press conference following his win for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Judas and the Black Messiah, Gardiner asked him about working with Regina King in One Night in Miami, which starred Odom Jr. Both Kaluuya and Odom were nominated for Supporting Actor.

“I want to congratulate you on this,” Gardiner told Kaluuya Sunday during the 93rd Academy Awards. “I’ve been following you since the beginning of your career, and I was wondering what it meant for you to be directed by Regina [King], what this means for you at this time with the world in the state that it’s in.”

Read More: Daniel Kaluuya wins 1st Oscar for ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

Kaluuya responded by telling Gardiner, “Say that question again, please,” and when she did so, she did not mention King, IndieWire reports. Watch the moment via the clip below.

Gardiner took to social media on Monday to slam reports that she had confused Kaluuya to Odom, writing, “Daniel Kaluuya, I did not mistake you for Leslie Odom Jr. I’m sorry if it seemed that way. I had wanted to ask about Regina King not being nominated as a director for ‘One Night in Miami,’ and your win for ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ for the community at this time.”

When a Twitter user replied, “You asked him what is it like being directed by Regina King. Everybody can listen to your question. Why are you lying?” Gardiner fired back “I’m not denying it. I made a mistake in my question. I apologize for that. And any pain that error made.”

“I’m sorry you assume I can’t tell these two talented men apart,” she tweeted to the critics. “I messed up my question. I won’t be believed. I apologize to Daniel, the assumption reflects the very world I wanted to ask about. I cannot defend this. I apologize.”

Speaking to The Los Angeles Times, Gardiner said… “I had wanted to ask him about winning at this moment. … It’s a zeitgeist moment of people finally recognizing the inequalities of organizations,” she explained. “When I said it, it came out that he couldn’t hear me.

Daniel Kaluuya / Leslie Odom Jr. via Twitter

Gardiner’s gaffe comes as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is under major scrutiny after The Los Angeles Times noted that the organization has zero Black journalists among its 87 members, theGRIO reported. 

The HFPA chooses the winners of the annual Golden Globe awards, whose choices of both nominees and eventual winners has been called “wildly disconnected” from not only Hollywood but the larger cultural landscape. That description was particularly fitting for 2020 projects: Critically-acclaimed Black shows and films like HBO’s I May Destroy You and Spike Lee‘s Da 5 Bloods on Netflix were both overlooked this year. Following the LA Times exposé, the HFPA said it’s committed to diversifying.

Read More: Leslie Odom, wife Nicolette Robinson welcome baby No. 2

“We do not control the individual votes of our members,” an HFPA spokesperson told The LA Times. “We seek to build cultural understanding through film and TV and recognize how the power of creative storytelling can educate people around the world to issues of race, representation and orientation.”


The organization issued a statement Thursday night, saying: “We are fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, TV and the artists inspiring and educating them.” Officials said they “understand that we need to bring in Black members, as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible.”

Southern California-based journalists are eligible to apply for membership to the HFPA; however, the organization is reportedly considering changing that rule to expand its applicant pool.

*theGRIO’s Biba Adams contributed to this report. 

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