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Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo say ‘Selma’ was snubbed by Oscars Academy after ‘I can’t breathe’ T-shirt protest

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group behind the Oscars, calls itself “committed to progress” after Selma director Ava DuVernay and star David Oyelowo say they were admonished for wearing “I can’t breathe” T-shirts outside of the 2014’s film’s premiere after-party to protest the death of Eric Garner.Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King Jr. in the historical drama, spoke about the current historical fight for racial equality during a Screen Talks Q&A and revealed that the cast of the film’s public protest over the death of Garner, who was put in a chokehold by a white New York City police officer, impacted its awards season journey.Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo at the NYC premiere of Selma. (Photo: Lars Niki/Corbis via Getty Images)More“Six years ago, Selma coincided with Eric Garner being murdered,” Oyelowo said. “That was the last time we were in a place of ‘I can’t breathe,’” which were Garner’s final words and then the final words of George Floyd, while in police custody in Minneapolis, six years later.“I remember at the premiere of Selma, us wearing ‘I can’t breathe’ T-shirts in protest,” he continued. “Members of the Academy called in to the studio and our producers saying, ‘How dare they do that? Why are they stirring sh**?’ and ‘We are not going to vote for that film because we do not think it is their place to be doing that.’”The outfit change came after the cast walked the red carpet at the now-closed Ziegfeld Theater in NYC. Before entering the New York Public Library for the afterparty, DuVernay and some of her cast members including Oyelowo, Lorraine Toussaint, Tessa Thompson, Wendell Pierce donned the shirts and posed on the iconic staircase while raising their arms in the air. (Oprah Winfrey, who appeared in the film, did not take part.)Oyelowo said that photo is “part of why that film didn’t get everything that people think it should’ve got,” as far as awards accolades, “and it birthed #OscarsSoWhite” hashtag. “They used their privilege to deny a film on the basis of what they valued in the world.”DuVernay chimed in on Twitter saying that Oyelowo was telling a “true story.”That led to the Academy responding on Twitter as well with the statement that it was “unacceptable” and that the group is “committed to progress.”The snub of Selma by the Oscars in 2015 was a big surprise to industry experts at the time. While it was considered a favorite to pull in more than the two nominations it received, for Best Picture and Best Song, it also pointed to the larger issue of it being the first all-white slate of acting nominees since 2011. That led to the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite dominating social media.In 2019, amid criticism of the makeup of the Academy — which has historically been overwhelmingly white and male — the group added 842 new members. A total of 29 percent of the new class were people of color and half of the new additions were female. There are 9000 members in total. However, the issue with a lack of diversity at the Oscars hasn’t significantly improved.Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

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