Belfast Telegraph

Michael B Jordan responds to lack of diversity in Oscar nominations

His film Just Mercy missed out on an Oscar nod.

Michael B Jordan attending the UK special screening of Just Mercy (Ian West/PA)
Michael B Jordan attending the UK special screening of Just Mercy (Ian West/PA)

By Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter

Michael B Jordan has said he wants to avoid disrespecting this year’s Oscar nominees as frustration mounts over the lack of diversity among the shortlist.

British star Cynthia Erivo, who starred in Harriet, is the only non-white actor or actress nominated at this year’s ceremony.

The Black Panther star, who plays civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson in Just Mercy, said he had decided to “step back” after the film was snubbed by the Academy.

Just Mercy tells the true story of Mr Stevenson’s battle to free death row prisoner Walter McMillian, played by Jamie Foxx, after he was arrested in 1987.

Speaking before a special screening in London, the US star, 32, said: “We don’t make movies for awards. What I don’t want to do is disrespect the nominees who are nominated because it is their time.

“Sometimes we step back. We got nominated for an NAACP Award. We got nominated for a SAG Award.

“Any of that for this type of movie goes with the narrative. We just want people to go out and see it so anything that we do get, we are so happy about it.

“But the more people who see this movie and find out about Bryan Stevenson, that’s the reward – that’s the award.”

The film is paving the way for Hollywood as one of the first to be made with a so-called inclusion rider, which ensures fair representation across cast and crew.

The riders were touted by actress Frances McDormand in her acceptance speech at the Oscars in 2018, and have been backed by British stars including Star Wars actor John Boyega.

Jordan said: “It’s super important because it allows people who have been on the sideline who have talent to jump in.

“It doesn’t mean that they are guaranteed a job but they should get a chance.

“So when a really big star like Michael B Jordan opens those doors, that means a lot, because you are going to find a lot of talented people.”

Just Mercy is in cinemas on January 17.

PA

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