A campaign group staged a protest at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award ceremony here over the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry, which has snowballed into a big controversy this award season.
“Creatives of Colour Network” group demonstrated outside London’s Royal Opera House as the movie awards season faces continued debate about the industry remaining dominated by whites and males.
Led by “Alien 3” actor Leon Herbert, dressed in black and white, the group chanted “cameras, lights, action, diversity and satisfaction” to promote their message with the help of small placards shaped like Bafta masks.
“Throughout the 90’s Corizon Visual Network peacefully protested the BAFTA awards due to the lack of diversity and opportunity within the film/ TV industry,” the group wrote on their Facebook page.
“In 2016, it seems nothing has changed! With only a couple of nominations this year at BAFTA people of colour still are NOT represented fairly on TV and Film,” they added.
The protesters handed out leaflets stamped with the hashtag #BaftaBlackout, which they have been using on social media.
“Beasts Of No Nation” star Idris Elba, who was nominated for best supporting actor, and “Star Wars” actor John Boyega, who won rising star, were the only black actors on this year’s Bafta shortlist.
On the red carpet, “Force Majeure” star Eddie Izzard said, “We always want diversity... I am transgender so I’m all for diversity.”
Reflecting on the film industry, nominee Eddie Redmayne added, “It’s quite a hard industry. And it takes time. But if you’re passionate enough you’ll do it.”
Bryan Cranston also spoke out in support of the calls for diversity on the red carpet and said that “change needs to happen”.
Actress Rebel Wilson stirred up a controversy at the Bafta awards with her jibe at transgender actors and a joke referring to the race of best actor nominee Idris Elba.
Wilson, 35, who was presenting the best supporting actor award, said she had been “practising her transgender face” in the hope of winning a prize and then referred to Elba as “chocolate” at the last night’s ceremony.
“I’ve never been to the Oscars, because as you know, they are racist,” she said at London’s Royal Opera House.
“But Bafta have diverse members and that’s what we all want to see in life, isn’t it? Diverse members. One day I hope to return here to win a BAFTA myself. I have already been practicing my transgender face.”
“Sorry, Idris Elba... You’re making me a bit nervous,” she said, adding, “But I’m just psychologically programmed to want chocolate on Valentine’s Day.”
Wilson is known for her roles in “Pitch Perfect” and “Bridesmaids”.
Elba was nominated for his role in “Beasts of No Nation”. Bafta presenter Stephen Fry’s jest on costume designer Jenny Beavan’s outfit sparked an outrage on social-media with many terming it as an insult.
Fry said “only one of the great cinematic costume designers would come to an awards ceremony dressed as a bag lady” after Beavan won the award for her work in “Mad Max: Fury Road”.
“Can’t bear Stephen Fry’s attitude. Mocking appearance just stifles diversity and people being themselves,” a user wrote.
Another said, “@stephenfry you do realise you’re presenting a public show... to the public... and you’re talking to the camera and hence to the public.”
“#bafta2016 @stephenfry you must apologise for #baglady comment,” another wrote.
Fry, 58, who has presented the awards since 2001, responded angrily on Twitter to the “sanctimonious” number who were offended.
“So just a word to the tragic figures who think calling Jenny Bevan a bag lady was an insult. She’s a dear friend and she got it. Derrr,” he tweeted.
The comedian then proceeded to retweet users who supported the joke and his humour and respond personally to those who mentioned him in tweets.
The comedian worked with Beavan on both “Gosford Park” and “Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows”.