Oscar-winning ’12 Years a Slave’ Actress Accuses Academy of ‘Unconscious Prejudice’

John Shearer/Invision/AP
John Shearer/Invision/AP
Los Angeles, CA

Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave actress Lupita Nyong’o accused Academy voters of harboring “unconscious prejudice,” as she joined the conversation surrounding this year’s Academy Awards race controversy.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced last week that for the second year in a row all 20 Oscar nominations in the four main acting categories had gone exclusively to white actors, leading to criticism from numerous prominent Hollywood entertainers.

Celebrities including Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith, George Clooney, Michael Moore and Snoop Dogg have pledged to boycott the Feb. 28 telecast.

While Nyong’o, who won a Best Supprting Actress award in 2014 for 12 Years a Slave, did not go as far as to say she is boycotting the awards show, she did say she was disappointed regarding the “lack of inclusion” in this year’s exclusively white nominees.

“It has me thinking about unconscious prejudice and what merits prestige in our culture,” she wrote in a message posted on Instagram Tuesday.

“The Awards should not dictate the terms of art in our modern society, but rather be a diverse reflection of the best of what our art has to offer today. I stand with my peers who are calling for change in expanding the stories that are told and recognition of the people who tell them.”

The actress captioned her message with a quote from famed black author James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Nyong’o added the hashtag #manystoriesmanyvoices.

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs issued a statement earlier this week saying she was “heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion.”

“This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership,” Isaacs said in her statement. “In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.”