Back to IndieWire

Remember Morgan Freeman’s Statement On The Lack Of Black Representation At The Oscars?

Remember Morgan Freeman's Statement On The Lack Of Black Representation At The Oscars?

You might remember, in 2011, Morgan Freeman’s response in an interview with BET, when asked by the interviewer, Ronke Idowu Reeves, for his take on the lack of African American actors nominated in that year’s Oscars.

Freeman replied:

“I think we need to get over that shit. How many Chinese do you see? You don’t see them out marching and shit. Oh God please. I think … We need to get over it, that’s all.”

That post drew about 150 comments.

So, looking at this year’s tiny number of black actors, or black representation overall at this year’s Oscars, is what Morgan said, 2 years later, any easier a pill to swallow? Have you gotten “over that shit” yet?

In the *major* acting categories, Denzel Washington is nominated for Best Actor, and Quvenzhané Wallis is nominated for Best Actress. That’s it! 

And the chances of either of them winning I’d say are slim right now. In the Best Actor category, it looks like it’s Daniel Day-Lewis’ to lose; and in the Best Actress category, Emmanuelle Riva and Jennifer Lawrence are getting much of the hype.

We could throw Django Unchained in the for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, but at the end of the day, it’s still ultimately a Quentin Tarantino film, with Harvey Weinstein’s backing, and it should be noted that none of the black actors in that film were nominated. The only acting nod went to Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor.

I also shouldn’t forget that War Witch (Rebelle) is nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category. If the film had more press behind it, its star Rachel Mwanza might have been nominated in the Best Actress category as well.

In the Best Short Film Live Action category, there’s the Somalia-set Asad.

Adn while Beasts of the Southern Wild is also nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, it’s also worth noting that there isn’t a single film written and directed by a black director that’s nominated in any of the major categories (probably in the minor categories as well).

Oh well… “get over that shit,” as Morgan Freeman says.

Who are you rooting for on Sunday night (they don’t have to be black)? Who do you think will win? Who shouldn’t have been invited? Do you even care?

This Article is related to: Features



That's a comment that's not going to piss off one white studio head and Morgan knows it.


What we need to get over is what Morgan Freeman says. He is by no measure someone anyone should look to as a leader of anything. He's a perv and is married to his grandaughter-in-law after being married to the grandmother. Sick freak.

This takes me back to the 80's when the grammy's had special categories for "best black single"…

BTW, Argo was a crap movie. Ben Affleck has one expression for all emotions (that fetal alcohol syndrome gaze).

Ms. Mooks

Its getting really annoying this discussion of race EVERY OSCAR SEASON! I agree with Morgan. Get over that shit! The ASIANS have it FAR worse than us blacks do as far recognition from "The Academy". You barely EVER see a Chinese, Korean, Japanese, etc being rewarded for acting performances…or the latinos or the middle easterns. There has been a black actor/actress/director/producer/etc nominated since 2001 until NOW. Look it up if you think I'm lying. Except for that one year I believe the year after Mo'Nique won for supporting. I mean, if that isn't progression than I don't know what is. And besides its a fucking award—it means shit…


I agree and disagree with Morgan Freeman that other people of colour are historically ignored by the Oscars. Morgan Freeman is part of the Hollywood elite and he seems to have a very myopic view about race. He's an old man who although black American is extremely wealthy and privileged. Also, Freeman is male and men always got it better than women in Hollywood.

The Academy Award is basically white Hollywood patting themselves on the back it is very much like high school a real clique. Once in a while a black actor breaks through the clique like a Denzel Washington or a Halle Berry due to their success in the business and not pissing others off.
I notice only "one" black actress has ever won the best actress Oscar and it seems Ms. Wallis is probably not going to win Sunday night due to her age.

But on the other hand, when was the last time an Asian American actor or a Native American actor or a Hispanic American actor won an Oscar? Rita Moreno won an Oscar I think back in the 1961 I think for West Side Story long time ago. I don't see other minorities complaining about not winning Oscars.


The Oscars are bullsh*t. I agree with Morgan that we need to just forget about that sh*t. When will these black actors and black critics see and accept that? Form your own coalition with other black folks in the business (and with other people of color generally in the business) and create your own people of color version of the Oscars or something entirely different. I mean, damn! When will we stop groveling for acceptance by these racists pricks? It's fricking embarrassing at this point.


I'm Life of Pi all the way! Love the movie and the book. Morgan Freeman is a busy actor in White Hollywood. The best way for Morgan Freeman to continue to stay busy in White Hollywood is to play and protect his position. That's what Morgan Freeman's doing, looking out for Morgan Freeman and continuing to stay busy.


I was involved in the past Morgan Freeman discussion. Along with the 150 comments, it was discussed even further in S&A's online podcast. I said it then and I'll say it now, I understand the gist of his comment.

I believe he was merely saying the crying foul syndrome is played and fruitless. If a person or place is not inviting you do their party — for whatever reasons — get over that shit. Pointing fingers, crying foul and yelling "racists", seldom – if ever – reaps rewards.

"[We need to accept the fact] that we NEED TO STEP OUR GAME UP and become THE BEST"


LOOK only 2 black directors have ever been nominated fro Best Director and NONE have ever won. It's not a matter of us getting upset and crying foul. But accepting that we NEED TO STEP OUR GAME UP and become THE BEST to compete with our white contemporaries.


And while we while away time until Feb. 24th, take a moment to check out this video where I demonstrate my program, the BEST PICTURE PREDICTOR. I wrote it in Java and is a fun program for any Oscar fan. It bases its numbers on odds that haven't been wrong since 2000, the year Gladiator won Best Picture — wwwdotfacebookdotcom/photo.php?v=10200443926879301.



If I ever looked toward the Oscars for any type of acknowledgement of craft or talent that time passed along time ago. I don't look to Hollywood nor to the Oscar ceremony as any type of arbiter on what is great in film. It is more of an exercise in the business dealings of a system that is well overdue for some type of shakeup assuming that it is not already moribund.
Hollywood is not even Hollywood as more wheeling and dealing seems to take place in the very same China that Freeman cites in his quote (you can't say the man is unaware of which side his bread will be buttered next). Take a look at many of the upcoming summer blockbusters over the next 12 months and take look who is co producing them? Notice where some of these films are being shot (the next Iron Man,e.g.). I read an article last week that mentioned how desperate many Hollywood producers/studios are to ensure that their films pass the Chinese censors that they are willing to make either changes to scripts to pass the Censorship boards (as Iron Man and KungFu Panda have reportedly done) or make edits to the version of the film that will be seen by Chinese audiences. Why is Hollywood, the land of Freedom of Speech being so compliant? They are nervous that too many homegrown Chinese films are capturing the home audience in the way that Hollywood films once did, pushing Hollywood to the margins of the Chinese movie industry and a smaller slice of the financial pie. As different ways to view films open up (Netflix, VOD, You Tube, Vimeo, etc), Hollywood/Oscars may be seen as more and more of a ceremonial variety show with some awards given out as a result of a lobbying contest. Film aficionados and casual viewers may begin to look at it (if they already don't) in the same way that dog lovers watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show–entertaining and cute to watch but with the over priced pedigrees on parade, not really indicative of the preferences nor the 'pulse' of the people.


it is obvious that we live in a multicultural and multiracial society however we blacks are neither members of the dominant culture nor the dominant race. The Oscars are part of a structure we are not part of therefore the inclusion of people of African descent in any capacity is so far a challenging task for those who sometimes are sensitive to the realities of this nation.
Morgan Freeman is an insider who sometimes lacks tact to express the level of reflection he has gone through in order to reach his prominent position.
Are people nominated for their work of for their race? I am always intrigued when these discussions occupy people's time.

Black Canseco

love Freeman's work–one of the all-time great actors. But I hate Freeman's attitude. His ego is beyond legendary out here… And mostly uncalled for.

Freeman's a smart cat who knows that when people question the Academy Award's frequent lack of diversity it's not about quotas or handouts. He knows people with genuine questions are genuinely concerned about how Blacks are portrayed, acknowledged and whether the struggle for access is ongoing.

Morgan cares about Morgan Freeman. Always has and always will. What has Morgan done for anyone other than himself? I'm not saying he owes any up and coming Black actors or writers anything, but just consider the source. There's a reason he's known as a difficult cat to work with. And he's the first to tell you he thinks he's the smartest person on every set he walks on and knows more than everyone he works with. He even said he thought he was god at one point…

And believe me, if Tarantino or Brad Pitt or Ben Affleck had hopped up with some "I'm tired of this diversity shit" talk, we'd be ready to march. But Morgan's sanctimonious ass say it and we wanna see if there's some truth in it?

C'mon yall…


I love Denzel, but I am especially rooting for Ms. Wallace. She may not win, but the experience of her attending the ceremony as a nominee is priceless. As for Morgan Freeman, he randomly singled out the actors of China. China is a country. The continent is Asia, Morgan.

Kira Sherrine

My advice is to: BUILD YOUR OWN FUCKING INFRASTRUCTURE!!!! No black people have tried building there own thing quite as much as trying to be "accepted" by another. You can not argue about being at another persons party if you can not have your own! Simple Symatics!! To top it off.. If there are no supporters going to your party and those supporters are still trying to get into that original party that you guys keep complaining about… Then you really and ultimately have to question yourselves now don't you?!?!

Mind you I am Black and I've been trying to build networks and organizations for years. In case any of you want to snap back!


Hollywood is a century-old business that has thrived on selling particular movies to their particular market. They don't need anyone else's help or input. And you know what? That's ok.

There are many people willing to become directors, writers and producers, but we also must understand Distribution and the International Market. It's not enough to think like an artist, you must be business minded as well. Sure, you make this product, but who are you gonna sell it to in order to justify the costs?

The smart thing would be to study Hollywood's ways i.e. production and distribution, then find out how to duplicate those methods to create your own success.


I'm weary of this annual "why aren't there more blacks nominated?" complaint. As another poster noted, exactly WHO do we expect to be nominated? The cast from a Tyler Perry movie or from a Wayans movie? Can we please acknowledge that black actors rarely have an opportunity to participate in an exceptional film. And when they do, they're often so secondary that their performances don't count towards receiving accolades. Even most films with white casts are mediocre at best! I can't speak to the lack of nominees in categories that are behind the camera but as far as in front of the camera is concerned, a lot of ingrained attitudes will have to change before we see talented black actors getting great roles in great movies.



It's not about who should/shouldn't have been nominated but rather the access to nominatable material for the actors. To Freeman's defense, I think he's got a point but only to an extent. As a gay man, I'm the first one to criticize the lack of actual gay actors playing gay roles, of which there are virtually none. The same can be said for any ethnic group that isn't Caucasian. It's a sad truth about the business.

that dude

What black people should have been nominated? Let's make a list first, before we start bitching. Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, Don Cheadle, the beautiful sister who starred in MIDDLE OF NOWHERE….who else?

Charles Judson

1) The academy is mostly old white men. They like what they like. Chase them all we want, all we're going to wind up is tired and sniffing their ****.

2) When I see a Brian Grazer or Harvey Weinstein, I'm less enamored with their awards than I am with the diversity of their companies and the longevity of their careers. I'd rather see a focus on who keeps coming back to the podium and why.

We could probably pull more lessons from the successful pairing of producer and directors, directors and writers, directors and cinematographers at the Oscars over the years, than who isn't going to get a floating head in the box treatment.

thomas rideout

I would not care, if it not reflect the lack of opportunities for black behind the camera. If more were in the guilds, there would be more blacks nominated. I think!!!

Narcel Reedus

That is precisely why I don't watch the Oscars. It's bullshit.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *