Gina Prince-Bythewood calls awards season ‘an eye-opener’ amid ‘The Woman King’ snubs

The filmmaker wrote an article in The Hollywood Reporter, reflecting on her acclaimed film and Black excellence in the Hollywood machine.

In a recent first-person article in The Hollywood Reporter, Gina Prince-Bythewood opened up about her film, “The Woman King,” and how it has seemingly been shut out of Academy Award consideration this year, noting that it was “eye-opening” when the film received no Oscar nominations.

Awards season is in full swing, and the “95th Academy Awards” ceremony is set to air next month. While some of the biggest films of the year (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Avatar: The Way of Water”) were recognized, popular and successful films from Black female directors were completely shut out of Oscar consideration, including projects like “The Woman King” and Chinonye Chukwu’s “Till.”

As the Los Angeles Times noted, the Oscars and the “entire awards ecosystem” have failed Black women.

2023 Palm Springs International Film Festival: Variety's Directors To Watch Brunch
Gina Prince-Bythewood attends the 2023 Palm Springs International Film Festival: Variety’s Directors To Watch Brunch on Jan. 6, 2023, at Parker Palm Springs in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

In The Reporter article, Prince-Bythewood wrote about the aftermath of the Oscar nominations, breaking down her reaction, what it means for Black artists in film and more.

Recalling texts and emails she has received since the snubs, she wrote, “Of course I’m disappointed. Who wouldn’t be? Especially because there was so much love for our film. And we can never forget that we already won. Not only does ‘The Woman King’ exist in the world, but it’s a success in the world.”

Continued Prince-Bythewood, “But the Academy made a very loud statement. And for me to stay quiet is to accept that statement. 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.”

The director described in detail how her film was ignored. “‘The Woman King’ wasn’t snubbed. A snub is if it missed out on a category or two,” she wrote. “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.”

The complete shutout of “The Woman King” was certainly a bit of a shock in the industry, according to Variety, especially following its performance at the box office, rave reviews from critics and inclusion in major Top 10 lists from AFI and National Board of Review.

As the Times reports, the lack of nominations in the Best Actress category for Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”) has sparked conversation about Hollywood’s failure to properly recognize Black women, everything from persistent stereotypes to the women not securing nominations from Oscar “precursors” like the Directors Guild of America.

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