‘Till’ actress opens up about her Oscars snub, racism and ‘misogynoir’

CNN Newsource Pristine Villarreal

(CNN) — For her powerful and moving performance as Mamie Till-Mobley in “Till,” Danielle Deadwyler was nominated for a BAFTA Award, a Critics’ Choice Movie Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and several other industry prizes.

But despite garnering critical acclaim for her turn as Emmett Till’s grieving mother, there was one notable award for which she was overlooked: the Oscar.

Deadwyler attributes the snub to systemic racism and “misogynoir,” a term coined by the Black feminist scholar Moya Bailey to refer to a distinct form of misogyny experienced by Black women as a result of how their race and gender intersect.

“We’re talking about people who perhaps chose not to see the film, we’re talking about misogynoir … it comes in all kinds of ways,” she said on an episode of the podcast “Kermode & Mayo’s Take” released Thursday. “Whether it’s direct or indirect, it impacts who we are.”

Deadwyler made the remarks after being asked about similar comments made by “Till” director Chinonye Chukwu.

“We live in a world and work in industries that are so aggressively committed to upholding whiteness and perpetuating an unabashed misogyny towards Black women,” Chukwu wrote in an Instagram caption on the day the Oscar nominations were announced.

Deadwyler wasn’t the only Black woman snubbed for a best actress Academy Award nomination. Viola Davis, who starred in “The Woman King” and was also considered an Oscars frontrunner, wasn’t nominated either.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has long had a diversity problem, and despite a record number of nominations for Asian actors and filmmakers this year, the organization once again came under fire for who it chose to honor and who it didn’t.

Of the 20 actors up for Oscars this year, just one is Black: Angela Bassett, nominated in a supporting role for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

As Deadwyler and Davis were shut out of the best actress category, Andrea Riseborough received a surprise nod for her performance in the indie film “To Leslie” — a decision that caused controversy because of a social media campaign that major Hollywood stars waged on Riseborough’s behalf shortly before voting for Oscar nominations began. The campaign, some critics noted, showed just how beneficial it is to have famous White friends.

“Whether it be a ‘grassroots’ campaign spearheaded by peers or multi-million industry dollars backing one, we rarely are the benefactors,” Davis wrote on Instagram this week. “If you see my work you also have to see our plight and either contribute to it or hinder it.”

There were also no women nominated for the best director Oscar, even though several films helmed by female directors this year were widely lauded by critics.

Gina Prince-Bythewood, whose film “The Woman King” received a coveted A+ Cinemascore yet did not receive a single Oscar nomination, said she was disappointed by the omission and called this awards season “an eye-opener.”

“But the Academy made a very loud statement, and for me to stay quiet is to accept that statement,” she wrote in a first-person piece for The Hollywood Reporter. “So I agreed to speak up, on behalf of Black women whose work has been dismissed in the past, is dismissed now like Alice Diop and Saint Omer, Chinonye Chukwu and Till — and for those who haven’t even stepped on a set yet.”

CNN has reached out to the Academy for comment.

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