Joaquin Phoenix calls out film industry's 'systemic racism'

London, Feb 3 (PTI) Actor Joaquin Phoenix targeted the British Academy of Film and Television for overlooking 'people of colour' in its nominations and urged the industry to dismantle a 'system of oppression' in his Bafta acceptance speech.

The actor, who won the best actor Bafta for his portrayal in the title role in 'Joker', said he felt 'conflicted' receiving the award as so many of his deserving fellow actors didn'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 onstage at the Royal Albert Hall.

Both British Academy of Film and Television and Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences were heavily criticised for the lack of representation and diversity after the nominations were announced.

The acting categories had shut out people of colour while no women directors were recognised in the directing segment.

'I don't think anybody wants a handout or preferential treatment, although that's what we give ourselves every year. I think people just want to be acknowledged, appreciated and respected for their work. This is not a self-righteous condemnation because I'm ashamed to say that I'm part of the problem,' Phoenix said.

Calling himself 'part of the problem', the 45-year-old actor said more than creating a diverse working environment, the issue at hand was about understanding 'systemic racism'.

'I have not done everything in my power to ensure that the sets I work on are inclusive, but I think it's more than just having sets that are multicultural. We have to do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism.

'I think it is the obligation of the people that have created and perpetuate and benefit from a system of oppression to be the ones that dismantle it. So that's on us,' he said. PTI RDS RDS