BAFTAs 2020: Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Michael Ward Receive Rising Star Noms, Rest of Film List Full of Colonizers

(L-R): Kelvin Harrison Jr. attends the 2019 IFP Gotham Awards with FIJI Water on Dec. 2, 2019, in New York City; Michael Ward attends BET International’s “International Flow” nominees celebration on Oct. 4, 2019, in Atlanta.
Photo: Noam Galai (Getty Images for FIJI Water), Bennett Raglin (Getty Images for BET International)

In such a rich film year, how can the awards season be so damn bland and predictable? Oh right, that good ol’ unseasoned concept known as systemic racism.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has announced nominations for their 2020 Film Awards and it definitely looks like a colonizer’s wet dream. The actor/actress noms list is completely white.

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If you’re looking for some color, look no further than the EE Rising Star Award. Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Michael Ward (Blue Story, Top Boy) each received nominations.

Harrison recently expressed his excitement for the honor:

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The 25-year-old actor, who has received critical acclaim for his roles in Luce and Waves, also recently scored Independent Spirit Award and Gotham Independent Film Award nominations. Though, I do wish he was getting more major award recognition.

“Clearly everybody knows that everybody in the four acting groups of nominees are white, it’s infuriating, we can’t make the industry do something, all we can do is encourage and push and inspire and try to help people coming in at the bottom end,” Marc Samuelson, chairman of BAFTA’s film committee, said according to CNN.

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The “we can’t make the industry do something” part of the quote is interesting as it is important to note that the issue isn’t that there aren’t enough films being produced by people of color, but there is a lack of access. The challenge and discrimination comes in when the filmmakers struggle to obtain proper distribution and marketing budgets, two key factors that are extremely important when it comes to awards season campaigning.

The BAFTAs are typically a decent indicator of how the Academy Awards will sway their nominations and votes, so it’s logical to wonder whether we’re going to get yet another reason why #OscarsSoWhite was created? We shall see. It would be nice to see a pleasant surprise, but I certainly wouldn’t count on it.

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For the complete list of 2020 BAFTA Film Awards nominations, head to bafta.org. Voting (which is open to the British public!) for the EE Rising Star Award begins now and ends on Jan. 24.

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About the author

Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.