BAFTA officials ‘disappointed’ by lack of diversity in nominations

BAFTA officials have admitted they are “disappointed” by the lack of diversity in the nominations for the 2020 British Academy Film Awards. The nominations for the 2020 ceremony were unveiled on Tuesday morning, revealing that Todd Phillips’s Joker ca…

BAFTA officials have admitted they are “disappointed” by the lack of diversity in the nominations for the 2020 British Academy Film Awards.

The nominations for the 2020 ceremony were unveiled on Tuesday morning, revealing that Todd Phillips’s Joker came top with 11 nods, closely followed by Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic The Irishman with 10.

Social media users swiftly went online to express their outrage at the all-white acting nominees, with them using the hashtag #BAFTASSoWhite. They blasted BAFTA voters for snubbing the likes of Awkwafina, Jennifer Lopez, Antonio Banderas, and Cynthia Erivo and opting to give Margot Robbie and Scarlett Johansson two nods each.

BAFTA executives have now admitted they are also disappointed about the all-white shortlist.

“Being totally honest, we are disappointed and that is not to take anything away from the people who have been nominated,” said BAFTA chief executive Amanda Berry, according to Press Association. She added that although no female filmmaker made the Best Director shortlist, they were recognised across other categories and this “gives me joy and hope”.

“But we are going to do more, we are not going to stop pushing,” she insisted.

While Marc Samuelson, chairman of BAFTA’s film committee, commented: “Clearly everybody knows that everybody in the four acting groups of nominees are white, it’s infuriating, we can’t make the industry do something, all we can do is encourage and push and inspire and try to help people coming in at the bottom end.”

Samuelson also noted that diversity is improving in other ways, as the percentage of female nominees has risen. However, he did concede, “It doesn’t take anything away from the issue in the acting categories but, nonetheless, it’s something and things are moving.”

The 2020 British Academy Film Awards will be hosted by Graham Norton at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 2 February.

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Cynthia Erivo felt Harriet Tubman was ‘around’ while she filmed biopic

Cynthia Erivo felt like former slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman was “around” while she played her in the biopic Harriet.In the drama, the Widows actress portrays the famed slave liberator, who passed away in 1913, as she escapes from slaver…

Cynthia Erivo felt like former slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman was “around” while she played her in the biopic Harriet.

In the drama, the Widows actress portrays the famed slave liberator, who passed away in 1913, as she escapes from slavery and travels 100 miles on her own to safety in Philadelphia. However, she cannot find peace knowing her family and friends are still enslaved so she journeys back and forth to free them all, plus hundreds of others.

Tubman regularly speaks to God to ask for guidance and Erivo, who describes himself as a person of faith, prayed before going on set, where she felt the activist’s presence.

“(I prayed) to make the space safe and open for her because I feel as if Harriet is complicit in this storytelling. I feel that she’s around. It’s comforting to be able to reach into your faith to tell the story of somebody who has faith,” she told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

The production was physically demanding, with the British actress having to sprint through forests, jump off bridges and wade through rivers, but she kept it all in perspective by thinking of what Tubman went through in real-life.

“While we were on set, if anything got difficult there was a saying: ‘HTH’, which was ‘Harriet Tubman hard’. So, if it wasn’t Harriet Tubman hard, it was fine, we were going to get through it. And nothing was Harriet Tubman hard, so we always got through it,” the 32-year-old stated.

Harriet marks the third film role for Erivo, who is earning Oscars buzz for her performance.

The biopic, which also stars Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae, and Joe Alwyn, is in cinemas now.

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Screenwriter claims studio boss wanted Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman

Harriet screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard has revealed a studio executive once suggested Julia Roberts play Harriet Tubman in the biopic.The film, starring British actress Cynthia Erivo as the African-American political activist and abolitionist Harrie…

Harriet screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard has revealed a studio executive once suggested Julia Roberts play Harriet Tubman in the biopic.

The film, starring British actress Cynthia Erivo as the African-American political activist and abolitionist Harriet Tubman, has been in the works for over a decade – with the premise first pitched in the early 1990s.

And as bosses debated which actresses should be in line for the titular role during a meeting in 1994, one unnamed “studio head” had a surprising suggestion.

“When I got in the business, I wanted to tell these historical stories by turning them into entertainment,” Howard said in a Q&A for Focus Features. “I didn’t want to give history lessons. I wanted to turn Harriet Tubman’s life, which I’d studied in college, into an action-adventure movie. The climate in Hollywood, however, was very different back then. I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, ‘This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman.’ When someone pointed out that Roberts couldn’t be Harriet, the executive responded, ‘It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.'”

Erivo is already being tipped for awards season success for her role in the movie, which Howard said was only made following the release of films 12 Years a Slave and Black Panther.

“Two films really changed the climate in Hollywood to allow Harriet to be made,” he continued. “When 12 Years a Slave became a hit and did a couple hundred million dollars worldwide, I told my agent, ‘You can’t say this kind of story won’t make money now.’ Then Black Panther really blew the doors open.”

Roberts has yet to respond to Howard’s claim.

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Cynthia Erivo broke down after playing slavery hero Harriet Tubman

Cynthia Erivo broke down in tears when she wrapped her new movie about slavery hero Harriet Tubman because she felt she was losing a friend.The British actress’s latest character really got under her skin in a good way and she felt like she had a real …

Cynthia Erivo broke down in tears when she wrapped her new movie about slavery hero Harriet Tubman because she felt she was losing a friend.

The British actress’s latest character really got under her skin in a good way and she felt like she had a real connection with Tubman.

“Playing her made me want to be fierce,” Erivo said during a recent SAG-AFTRA Conversations event. “I thought I was determined and I thought I was strong physically. I thought I was intelligent. But then you play her… It made me learn that my determination pales in comparison and I’ve decided to distil what it really means to be determined in my life.

“I remember that last day, it was pitch black as we shot it in the dark, in the mud, in the middle of nowhere. After the film wrapped I felt a little bit sad, really. It was like letting a friend go because she had been part of my life for a really long time. I had been learning her and trying to find her and speaking to her and praying for her and thanking her.”

However, The Bad Times at the El Royale star explained it wasn’t until she travelled back to London that all of the emotions really hit her.

“I went and did two concerts afterwards, so I didn’t really decompress until I went home to my mum. I went back to London and I was ill one day and all of a sudden I broke down in tears and was crying my eyes out,” the 32-year-old stated. “I just realised that I hadn’t come up for air yet. I guess the decompression was forced upon me. I won’t let that happen like that again.”

And Erivo always has at least one Tubman reminder with her at all times.

“I still wear my ring that has her face on it and I have a chain that has her on it as well,” she smiled.

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Cynthia Erivo urges critics to support Harriet Tubman biopic

Cynthia Erivo has called on critics to support her new film about legendary African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman.The British actress portrays the anti-slavery activist in the new movie Harriet, but her casting upset some who believed the part s…

Cynthia Erivo has called on critics to support her new film about legendary African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

The British actress portrays the anti-slavery activist in the new movie Harriet, but her casting upset some who believed the part should have gone to an African-American.

Erivo is sympathetic to their views, but now the film is about to be released, she is convinced supporting the project is the best way to provide future opportunities for more women of colour to put their spin on Tubman, who escaped slavery to help free others via the network of secret routes and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.

“I understand that people would feel strongly about this woman (Tubman) because she means a lot to a lot of people,” Erivo said during an appearance on The TODAY Show. “But I think the thing that is really important is this is the first time we’re getting to see her (story in Hollywood), and really and truly, I hope that people come out to support this, so we can make more.

“It’s not a story that should be told in one film, it’s definitely a story that lasts and lasts. She was 91 years old by the time that she died, and she did a lot of work in her time.

“Hopefully, this just opens doors for many other actresses.”

Directed by Kasi Lemmons, Harriet also co-stars Joe Alwyn, Leslie Odom Jr., and Jennifer Nettles. The movie opens in U.S. cinemas on 1 November.

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Letitia Wright and Lakeith Stanfield land BAFTA Rising Star nominations

Letitia Wright, Lakeith Stanfield and Cynthia Erivo have been shortlisted for the EE Rising Star prize at the 2019 BAFTA Film Awards. The British actress, who made her breakthrough playing fan favourite Shuri in Marvel movie Black Panther, was reveale…

Letitia Wright, Lakeith Stanfield and Cynthia Erivo have been shortlisted for the EE Rising Star prize at the 2019 BAFTA Film Awards.

The British actress, who made her breakthrough playing fan favourite Shuri in Marvel movie Black Panther, was revealed as a contender for the only public-voted prize at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Film Awards on Thursday morning (03Jan19).

“It’s an incredible feeling to be chosen by BAFTA and the jury as a candidate for the EE Rising Star Award,” Letitia said in a statement. “It means a lot that my work has been recognised, especially in the country I’ve grown up in, and that I get to share this recognition with so many talented actors.”

She will compete against Lakeith, who is best known for his work on TV series Atlanta and films such as Get Out and Sorry to Bother You.

“I can’t begin to express my gratitude to BAFTA and the jury for this nomination,” he gushed. “The calibre of previous EE Rising Star Award winners and nominees is incredible, and I feel honoured to be counted among them. It’s a very proud moment indeed.”

British actress Cynthia, who has already achieved Tony, Emmy and Grammy Awards for her role in the stage revival of musical The Color Purple, lands on the shortlist after making her feature film debut in 2018 in both Widows and Bad Times at the El Royale.

The five-person category also features Irish actor Barry Keoghan, who is best known for his work in Dunkirk, The Killing of a Sacred Deer and American Animals, and Irish actress Jessie Buckley, who received acclaim for her performance in 2018 independent film Beast.

The winner will follow in the footsteps of 2018 winner Daniel Kaluuya as well the likes of previous winners James McAvoy, Tom Hardy, Kristen Stewart and John Boyega.

The 2019 BAFTA Film Awards take place on 10 February at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The main nominees will be announced on 9 January.

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Steve McQueen: ‘I deal with racism every day’

Widows director Steve McQueen has claimed he experiences racism every day.In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave director discussed the lack of Golden Globe nominations for his latest film, which is based on an …

Widows director Steve McQueen has claimed he experiences racism every day.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave director discussed the lack of Golden Globe nominations for his latest film, which is based on an ’80s British TV series about four women who plan a daring heist, and stars Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez, and Cynthia Erivo.

When asked if he had experienced more racism since Brexit, when the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, he scoffed: “Every day, mate. Yes, of course!… You deal with it. You have to or you go mad.”

The 49-year-old insisted that Britain has taken “two steps backwards”, blaming a rise in Nationalism for the hostile political climate. He also recounted a racist moment experienced by his mother when she was out shopping.

“She had a new credit card with her and was struggling to remember the pin. The guy behind the till said: ‘It’s four digits in this country,'” he recalled. “But the day before Brexit you wouldn’t have even thought about saying that. Apparently, you’re allowed to now.”

McQueen’s film, which received rave reviews in some quarters, was snubbed at the nominations for the Golden Globe, which is run by The Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

While many in the movie industry were shocked, the Hunger director was pragmatic about the omission.

“As an artist, you have your path and that’s fine. And sometimes the world won’t agree with you…,” he continued. “I’m here hopefully for a little while and will do my work. I’m just telling a story about four women trying to get their s**t together, about the environment in which we’re living, in a way that’s not high heels and handbags, that’s about human beings and full-on conversations.”

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Cynthia Erivo wants to do a Marvel movie

Cynthia Erivo is keen to front a Marvel movie one day.The English actress started out in theatre, winning the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Celie in the Broadway revival of The Colour Purple.She’s now turned her attent…

Cynthia Erivo is keen to front a Marvel movie one day.

The English actress started out in theatre, winning the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Celie in the Broadway revival of The Colour Purple.

She’s now turned her attention to movies, with her latest credits including Steve McQueen’s Widows and Drew Goddard’s Bad Times at the El Royale, as well as upcoming biopic Harriet, where she’ll play slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

Looking to the future, Cynthia is keen to step into the shoes of a superhero.

“I will say this until I’m blue in the face: I really want to do a Marvel movie,” she shared in an interview with Empire magazine. “I really want to play a superhero. People keep saying they’d like to see me play Storm (X-Men character previously played by Halle Berry, Alexandra Shipp and Danielle Nicolet).”

When it comes to dream co-workers, the 31-year-old singled out Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, and Ava DuVernay, who she says she loves despite never meeting.

And after being asked who her favourite “movie Chris” is, Cynthia didn’t hesitate in naming her Bad Times at the El Royale co-star Chris Hemsworth.

“Has to be,” she smiled. “He’s amazing. There’s a massive scene where we’re all together. It was really cool to work with him. He’s just a good guy.”

Bad Times at the El Royale is in cinemas now, while Widows is scheduled for release in November.

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Michael Kors used to love wearing head-to-toe Versace

Michael Kors has confessed that he loved to wear head-to-toe Versace in his youth.The American fashion designer, whose company Michael Kors Holdings Limited recently acquired the Italian couture house in a $2 billion deal, has long been a fan of wearin…

Michael Kors has confessed that he loved to wear head-to-toe Versace in his youth.

The American fashion designer, whose company Michael Kors Holdings Limited recently acquired the Italian couture house in a $2 billion deal, has long been a fan of wearing the designs of the late Gianni Versace, who founded the company famous for its baroque prints in 1978.

And in a chat with U.S. InStyle magazine at a celebrity-stuffed dinner party which included Iman, Tiffany Haddish, Karen Elson, Cynthia Erivo, Sutton Foster, Naomi Watts, Judith Light and Savannah Guthrie, the 59-year-old revealed designer Donatella Versace, who has overseen the brand since the tragic murder of her brother in 1997, would be one of his dream dinner dates.

“She and I are both fans of tan and blond,” he explained. “I told Donatella that in my South Beach days, I was known to wear head-to-toe Versace, but at this point in my life I might be able to sneak in a piece.”

The Versace deal stunned the fashion world, but Donatella reassured fans of the couture house that she will remain the company’s creative director, while her older brother Santo Versace and daughter Allegra Versace, 32, will become shareholders in Capri Holdings Limited, the new name for Michael Kors Holdings Limited.

The designer also shared his dream list of fantasy dinner guests during the interview, and insisted that his number one rule for throwing a successful soiree is to have a mix of guests of different ages, backgrounds, and professions.

“If I can turn Karen Elson and Judith Light into besties, that’s fantastic,” he continued. “At the same time, there should be something that unites the whole group – in this case, they are women who all have a strong sense of humour about the world.”

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Viola Davis on ‘terrifying’ Widows love scene with Liam Neeson

Viola Davis was extremely nervous about her onscreen sex scene with Liam Neeson.The 53-year-old actress opened up about filming a love scene with the Taken star for Steve McQueen’s movie Widows, which garnered rave reviews at its Toronto International …

Viola Davis was extremely nervous about her onscreen sex scene with Liam Neeson.

The 53-year-old actress opened up about filming a love scene with the Taken star for Steve McQueen’s movie Widows, which garnered rave reviews at its Toronto International Film Festival premiere earlier this month (Sep18).

And in a new interview, Viola admitted she was definitely not as relaxed about filming the bedroom scene as Liam was.

“It was absolutely terrifying, to tell you the truth,” she told Inquirer.net.

“He was cool. He was like, ‘OK, where do you want me to be? Do you want me to take my clothes off?’ He was very respectful, great, an elegant gentleman, everything you could possibly imagine,” she added praising her Northern Irish co-star.

In Widows, Viola plays Veronica, who leads a group of four women played by Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo, as they attempt a heist after their criminal husbands are killed after a robbery goes south.

However, the Oscar-winning actress has rarely had to disrobe in her movies, which meant she had to reveal quite a different side of herself onscreen.

“I am used to playing maids and drug addicts,” she laughed. “So it cost me something to be that vulnerable. You’ve seen a lot of sex scenes onscreen that have been way more graphic, but when I approach any kind of scene in that nature, it’s very private and you’re looking in on it.

“I was terrified and especially when you have cameras on you and Steve McQueen saying, ‘It’s got to be lustier! You have to open your mouths more!’”

Viola also shared that she often feels pressure to wear weaves and wigs to imitate mainstream beauty standards if she’s playing a romantic role. But Steve encouraged her to wear her natural hair.

“So there I was in bed with Liam Neeson, wearing my natural hair, being 53 and dark (skinned),” she continued. “It’s like what Steve said, ‘Viola, this woman exists. I see her all the time. In Europe, I see her in airports. I see her with a white husband who’s Irish, who’s whatever.

“She just hasn’t been introduced to the American cinema, so it’s about time we introduce her.”

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