The Bafta Awards, one of the most prestigious film events in the UK, has faced criticism after all of the winners at its film ceremony on Sunday were white, despite having a diverse set of nominees. This comes three years after a similar controversy when all 20 acting nominees were white.
Although the event had a large proportion of people from ethnic minorities among its acting shortlist slots, none of them won.
The director of consultancy at the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, Marcus Ryder, said that there had been “no substantial change” in the past decade, despite significant reforms in the wake of the previous outcry.
“Ten years ago, in 2013, Lenny Henry made headlines at the TV Baftas when he labelled it as ‘All white on the night’,” he said.
“And depressingly, despite a massive overhaul, on which I and many other industry people were consulted and which resulted in 120 changes to the Bafta award processes, 1,000 new members from under-represented groups etc, the end result is there is no substantial change.”
The film and TV critic, Ashanti Omkar, said that while the winners deserved their awards, she was worried that progress had been reversed and that the industry still suffered from systemic racism. She added that the focus should not be on ceremonies like the Baftas, which are “just the tip of the iceberg” of a wider film industry that “suffers from systemic racism.”
“Alison Hammond was the only person of the global majority in it, and she was not a winner but working at the event like many others who added colour to the red carpet, performed music and presented awards,” she said. “That felt regressive and like these were cosmetic steps forward as opposed to real systemic change.”
This controversy highlights the ongoing problem of diversity and representation in the film industry, not just in the UK but globally. Despite efforts to improve diversity, progress has been slow, and systemic issues continue to hold back people from underrepresented groups.