The 76th British Academy Film Awards ceremony, which was held on this Sunday evening, has managed to find itself under serious criticism for having an all-white list of winners. The BAFTA is one of the most prestigious awards ceremonies across the globe and the largest in the UK. A nomination or win at BAFTAs can make careers for aspiring actors in the cinema industry. Thus BAFTAs have always been a massive deal. On the other hand, awards ceremonies such as BAFTAs and Oscars have been criticized from time to time for only favoring white actors and actresses. The 76th BAFTAs have been exposed to similar criticism as the winners for this year’s awards included only white candidates.
BAFTAs include 49 different categories for awards, and this year, all 49 categories were secured by white candidates, which is something hard to believe for anyone. Nominations, which were announced last month on January 19th, included almost 40% of people from ethnic minorities, because of this, many hoped that this year’s BAFTAs will represent racial diversity. But seeing the outcomes, people have reacted rather abruptly to the awards ceremony. It is something new for BAFTA to receive such criticism. In 2020, due to constant criticism about racial diversity in nominees, BAFTA announced that it will be increasing the number of nominees to include names from ethnic minorities, But despite these attempts, BAFTA has managed to garner criticism each year because of having an all-white winners list.
Many popular names in Hollywood have expressed their displeasure over this year’s BAFTAs. This means that the decade-old rants from all over the world have not made any changes to the way BAFTA decides its winners. Marcus Ryder, the Director at the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, said the results for this year’s BAFTAs were depressing. Sir Lenny Henry, called out BAFTA back in 2013. He said that the ceremony is “All white on the night'." After this, BAFTA made many changes to the way it sorts out nominations and winners. The agency consulted several people from the industry and made 120 potential changes to its operations. This also included the addition of 1,000 new members to its committee which represented ethnic minorities. But despite all this revamp process, the outcomes have still been just as depressing as they were before. All areas that have shown admirable changes are the nominations. BAFTAs included over 40% people for ethnic minorities.
But this seems more like a way of covering things as nominations mean nothing if the winners are still going to be all-white. Marcus Ryder further said that the BAFTA is just the tip of the iceberg or the face of major issues hidden behind the BAFTA. He said that the film industry has been driven by racism which is reflected in awards ceremonies such as BAFTAs. Ashanti Omkar, who took part in this year’s BAFTAs as a jury for the short film category, said that she was devastated to witness the results and see the group photo of all the winners. She pointed at people who took part in the award ceremony as working crew or jury members, and how these people represented the racial diversity that people have been demanding from BAFTA. But she also added that these people being part of BAFTA only came out as a cosmetic change rather than an actual systemic change.