Joaquin Phoenix calls out lack of diversity in BAFTA Award speech

The Academy Awards can at least say it's doing better in the diversity sphere than another high profile awards show: the BAFTA Awards, its British counterpart. Though neither has any reason to celebrate.

As #OscarsSoWhite remains a prominent hashtag in Hollywood five years after it was created, the British Academy of Film Awards was called out Sunday — including by one of its own winners — for its lack of inclusiveness.

"I think we send a very clear message to people of colour that you're not welcome here," Joaquin Phoenix said on stage after accepting the best actor award for his role in the psychological thriller Joker

"I think that's the message we're sending to people who have contributed so much to our medium, in our industry and in ways that we benefit from."

The actor's remarks were unusual in that Phoenix is known to keep a low-profile at ceremonies and doesn't often speak to media. While he's an activist in areas such as climate change and animal rights, he has rarely spoken about issues of diversity in film and television.

But the lack of multiculturalism at the BAFTA Awards was as obvious in the cutaways of the crowd as it was in the list of nominations.

Much like the Oscars in 2015 and 2016, all 20 BAFTA Award nominees this year in the lead and supporting performer categories were white. There is one person of colour nominated across all four of the 2020 Oscar's acting categories: Harriet's Cynthia Erivo for best actress.

Glen Wilson/Focus Features

No women were nominated in the best director category at the BAFTAs nor the Academy Awards.

Phoenix said he wasn't trying to be "self-righteous" but instead was "ashamed to say that I'm part of the problem."

"I have not done everything in my power to ensure that the sets I work on are inclusive," he said.

Phoenix's credits include The Master, You Were Never Really Here and Walk The Line. So far this year, he's won a Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and Critics' Choice Award for his performance in Joker. He's the frontrunner for an Oscar as well.

"I think it is the obligation of the people that have created, and perpetuate and benefit from a system of oppression to be the ones that dismantle it," he said. "So that's on us."

Watch Joaquin Phoenix's BAFTA Awards speech: