Cynthia Erivo has thanked Joaquin Phoenix for making a “brave” speech about systemic racism in Hollywood at the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs).
While accepting the Best Actor award at the ceremony in London last week, the Joker star took the opportunity to call out the lack of diversity in this year’s awards season nominees, and urged his fellow actors to tackle the problem head-on.
In light of Phoenix’s speech, Erivo, who is the only black nominee in the acting categories at the upcoming Oscars, has praised the 45-year-old for speaking out about the issue and expressed her hope that it will force change within the industry.
“It meant that someone like him was listening and seeing what is going on and has gotten to the point where he can pretend it’s not happening anymore,” the British actress told Variety.
Erivo, who is nominated at the Academy Awards on Sunday for her portrayal of Harriet Tubman in the biopic Harriet, added that it “meant a lot” to her that Phoenix made the important speech while in her home city.
“I hope we didn’t fall on deaf ears. We never know,” she shared. “But I think it was time for someone like him to say it, because people like me, the black girls of the world, the black men of the world, are saying it consistently, but we’re not always being heard.
“So maybe it might have taken that to change something.”
Erivo, 33, previously showed her support for Phoenix’s blistering speech at the BAFTAs by posting a clip of it to Instagram on Monday.
“Joaquin Phoenix giving a word on institutional racism. Much respect,” she wrote in the caption.
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