As Joaquin Phoenix was awarded the BAFTA for best ‘Leading Actor’ for his performance in Todd Phillips’ Joker, he stood up to the podium and delivered an impassioned speech calling on the film industry to dismantle the “system of oppression.”
During the speech, while Phoenix thanked the BAFTAs and said he was “honoured and privileged” to be at the event, as well as the support the academy has offered, he confessed he was also “conflicted because so many of my fellow actors that are deserving don’t have that same privilege.”
“I think that we send a very clear message to people of colour that you’re not welcome here, I think that’s the message that we’re sending to people that have contributed so much to our medium and our industry and in ways that we benefit from,” he said. “I don’t think anybody wants a hand-out or preferential treatment, although that’s what we give ourselves every year. I think people want to be appreciated and respected for their work.”
Keen to clear up his comments, Phoenix pointed out his words were not “self-righteous condemnation” because he is indeed too “part of the problem”. Phoenix added: “I have not done everything in my power – not all sets I’ve worked on are inclusive,” he admitted.
“I think that we really have to do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism. It is the obligation of the people that have created and perpetuated and benefit from a system of oppression to dismantle it, so that’s on us.”