The Woman King director addresses Oscar snubs and the 'chasm between Black excellence and recognition'

Gina Prince-Bythewood
Gina Prince-Bythewood Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Oscar pundits were surprised when The Woman King was blanked at this year's Academy Awards, and the film's director is now speaking out.

The Woman King director Gina Prince-Bythewood has responded in The Hollywood Reporter to her film receiving zero nominations at the 2023 Oscars. The historical drama was widely expected to earn a Best Actress nod for Viola Davis, who plays the leader of a group of female warriors in 19th century Africa.

Prince-Bythewood said the Academy "made a very loud statement" by not giving the film any nominations, which is a "reflection of where the Academy stands and the consistent chasm between Black excellence and recognition." She continued that she was "struck" by Academy members who "simply didn't want to see the film" during awards season and directly told her they had to be "dragged" to a screening.

In addition to Davis not being nominated for Best Actress, Danielle Deadwyler was also left out for Till, while Andrea Riseborough earned a surprise nod for the little-seen indie movie To Leslie after a grassroots campaign that later drew Academy scrutiny. In apparent reference to this, Prince-Bythewood took issue with "how people in the industry use their social capital" during the awards race.

"There is no groundswell from privileged people with enormous social capital to get behind Black women," she said.

Davis shared Prince-Bythewood's article on Instagram, seemingly also referencing the Riseborough controversy by saying that "whether it be a 'grassroots' campaign spearheaded by peers or multi-million industry dollars backing one, we rarely are the benefactors."

Till director Chinonye Chukwu previously spoke out after her film also did not receive any Oscar nominations, writing on Instagram, "We live in a world and work in industries that are so aggressively committed to upholding whiteness and perpetuating an unabashed misogyny toward Black women."

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