Viola Davis in the Woman King

The “Woman King” director Gina Prince-Bythewood is calling out the Oscars saying leaving out her film and others was a “very loud statement.”

The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, announced this year’s nominees in January leaving out prominent black-led films such as Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “The Woman King”, with a cast led by Viola Davis; Chinonye Chukwu’s “Till”, starring Danielle Deadwyler; and Alice Diop’s “Saint Omer”, which was France’s selection for international film.

In a first-person article, Bythewood begins by shining a light on the Oscar's history with awarding Black excellence.

“In the 95-year history of the Academy Awards, no Black filmmaker has ever won best director. No Black woman has ever been nominated,” she wrote, adding that studio executives would be hard-pressed to find a black Oscar-winning director.

Discussing her own film’s omission, she said, “the Academy made a very loud statement, and for me to stay quiet is to accept that statement. 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.”

She further states that she wouldn’t call what the Oscars did a “snub” but rather a “consistent chasm between Black excellence and recognition.”

““The Woman King” wasn’t snubbed. A snub is if it missed out on a category or two. The film was not nominated for one single craft. Not one single extraordinary performance was recognized. And when has that happened for a successful film that hit all the so-called markers? It’s not a snub. It’s a reflection of where the Academy stands and the consistent chasm between Black excellence and recognition.”

The film, which is set to make $100 Million at the global box office was omitted in every category including Best Actress for Viola Davis which many have speculated is in some way owed to the controversy surrounding the Andrea Risenborough surprise nomination.

“The Woman King” screened in Kenya in September 2022.

Read Bythewood’s entire open letter here.

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