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BAFTA to Review Voting Process After Outrage Over All-White 2020 Acting Nominees

Women directors were also shut out of the Best Director race at the 2020 BAFTA Awards.

Lupita Nyong'o stars in Jordan Peele's new horror film, "Us." (Universal Pictures)


Universal Pictures

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has announced plans for a major review of its awards voting process amid backlash over the recent batch of BAFTA Film Awards nominees (via Variety). The 2020 BAFTA Film Awards shut out actors of color in the four acting races (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor) and only nominated male filmmakers in the Best Director race. BAFTA’s film committee chair Marc Samuelson admitted publicly there is an “infuriating lack of diversity in the acting noms,” while adding, “It’s just a frustration that the industry is not moving as fast as certainly the whole BAFTA team would like it to be.”

Samuelson now tells Variety that in the wake of the all-white acting nominations at the 2020 BAFTA Film Awards there will be a “careful and detailed review [of the voting process] within and outside the membership.” The review will be conducted in time for the 2021 nominations.

The initial round of BAFTA Film Awards voting to decide the nominations is split between all members for some categories and selected juries for other categories. The acting categories, in which only white actors were nominated in 2020, are voted upon by all 6,500 BAFTA members. After the nominations are announced, a winner is voted upon in most categories by all members.

The BAFTA process is slightly different than the Oscars. As stated in the Academy’s official rules, the nominations for most Oscar categories are decided upon by the corresponding branch: Actors nominate actors, directors nominate directors, film editors nominate film editors, etc. All voting Academy members are able to vote on nominations for Best Picture. Select categories such as nominees for Best International Feature Film are voted upon by designated committees. Once nominations are announced, Academy members can vote in all categories for the winners. The major difference as it pertains to the BAFTAs is the acting categories. Whereas only the Academy actor’s branch decides the acting Oscar nominees, the entire BAFTA group decides BAFTA acting nominees.

After the 2020 BAFTA Film Award nominations were announced, Emma Baehr, director of awards and membership, said in a statement, “We would like there to be more diversity in the nominations, but this continues to be an industry-wide issue. We’d like to see more diverse nominations and we will work harder and push the industry more. But that shouldn’t take away from those who were nominated [this year].”

As many awards pundits have noted, the acting races feature no shortage of worthy awards performances from actors of color this season: Lupita Nyong’o (“Us”), Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”), Jennifer Lopez (“Hustlers”), Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”), Awkwafina (“The Farewell”), Eddie Murphy (“Dolemite Is My Name”), and more. This week alone, Nyong’o and Banderas accepted the Best Actress and Best Actor prizes from the NYFCC, while Awkwafina triumphed at the Golden Globes. The 2020 BAFTA Awards are set to take place February 2.

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