Chinonye Chukwu is not happy that her film Till was snubbed by the Oscars. Danielle Deadwyler, the actress who portrays Mamie Till-Mobley in the film was expected to earn a nomination for the role. Instead, Michelle Riseborough, who was in a little-seen film called For Leslie was a surprise Best Actress nominee.
“We live in a world and work in industries that are so aggressively committed to upholding whiteness and perpetuating an unabashed misogyny towards Black women,” Chukwu posted on her Instagram account, the caption of a photo with Myrlie Evers Williams, the civil rights activist whose first husband, Medgar Evers was assassinated in Mississippi in 1963.
Chukwu added, “I am forever in gratitude for the greatest lesson of my life ― regardless of any challenges or obstacles, I will always have the power to cultivate my own joy, and it is this joy that will continue to be one of my greatest forms of resistance,” she wrote.
Till is the story Till-Mobley’s effort to share the reality of her son’s vicious murder with the world, so that the horrors of racism would be widely exposed. The Chicago resident’s 13-year-old son, Emmett Till was murdered on a summer visit with relatives in Money, Mississippi in 1955.
He was falsely accused of flirting with a married white woman. That woman, Carolyn Bryant, is still alive. In an exclusive last year, NewsOne documented that in her unpublished memoir, she felt like she’d been victimized by the unrelenting publicity around the case. Although they were acquitted for the crime, her husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam told Look magazine they’d killed Till.
Before Till, Chukwu directed 2019’s Clemency with Alfre Woodard in the lead role. The drama generated critical acclaim and three Independent Spirit Award nominations.
Deadwyler has remained silent on the perceived snub so far. But Whoopi Goldberg, who appeared in Till and coproduced the film, had her say on The View after the nominations were announced.
“Before we start off, we just want to celebrate the talented artists and filmmakers who were nominated for Oscars this morning,” Goldberg said. “Unfortunately, my film, Till, was not nominated, but we do want to congratulate all the nominees, because many of them have been here and it’s wonderful to say congrats, so that’s what we’ll do.”
While anonymous commenters to a Deadline piece on Chukwu’s remarks were split about the movie, most praised Deadwyler and agreed she should have been nominated. Riseborough’s movie was on few critic’s radars, but it has been reported that a social media campaign supported by Hollywood stalwarts like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jane Fonda helped her get the nod.
But acclaim for Deadwyler’s performance came from multiple film and industry insiders as well fans who’d seen the movie.
Canadian actress/director Sarah Polley, whose Women Talking film was nominated for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay but snubbed for a director nod, advocated for Deadwyler via her Twitter account. Yet Polley was the subject of criticism just the day before from actor Wendell Pierce for her all-white film.
Film critic Brian Rowe weighed in from Sundance.
And producer and writer Kirk Moore provided the receipts with a clip of Deadwyler’s performance.
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