As soon as the list of Oscar nominees were announced, outrage shortly followed as only one Black woman was nominated for an honor.
That woman was Cynthia Erivo, for her starring role in Harriet. While being nominated for such a prestigious award, particularly since it puts her one step away from an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony), the actress, singer and songwriter still felt obligated to speak out about the lack of Black representation that once again plagues Hollywood’s biggest night of honors.
“The whole thing is loopy,” she told the New York Times via telephone on her way to Japan. “It’s not enough that I’m the only one. It just isn’t.” She continued, “Far too much work was done this year by incredible women and men of color that should be celebrated.”
The nominations list for the Oscars came less than a week after the British Academy put forward a completely white list of acting nominees. British Academy Film Awards invited Erivo to perform the Harriet ballad “Stand Up,” but she reportedly turned down the opportunity because it “didn’t represent people of color in the right light.”
Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, also via phone, Erivo expressed her confliction over being the sole Black female Oscar nominee.
“It is bittersweet really and truly because while I worked very hard for what was happening I also would have loved to be able to celebrate with other people of color who worked really hard this year also,” she said. “I believe there has been incredible work this year and beautiful pieces that have come out not just by people of color but women directors as well. So I’m hoping that I can represent us well once that celebration happens.”