Steve McQueen on BAFTA Diversity Crisis: Change or Have "No Credibility at All"

Steve McQueen - H 2016
Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

The Oscar winner says the BAFTAs could become like the Grammys after a year in which black talent was snubbed from the main acting categories.

Steve McQueen, director of 12 Years a Slave and Widows, has warned that the BAFTA awards could become like the Grammys, and have "no credibility at all," unless it reforms following the diversity controversy that erupted in the wake of this year's film nominations.

Revealed last week, the 2020 crop of BAFTA nominees sparked an instant backlash after it emerged that black talent had been snubbed in the main acting categories, with the likes of Brit stars Lupita Nyong'o and Cynthia Erivo missing out, while the directing shortlist was, once again, an all-male affair. 

“After a while you get a bit fed up with it. Because if the BAFTAs are not supporting British talent, if you’re not supporting the people who are making headway in the industry, then I don’t understand what you are there for," McQueen, a two-time BAFTA winner himself, told The Guardian

“Unless the BAFTAs wants to be like the Grammys, which is of no interest to anyone, and has no credibility at all, then they should continue on this path. If not then they have to change. Fact."

The British Academy has repeatedly acknowledged that it has a problem to fix since the nominations were unveiled, with CEO Amanda Berry saying she was "very disappointed" with the lack of diversity. Just days after the nominations were unveiled, BAFTA said it was undergoing a "thorough review" of its voting process after calls for it to adopt a jury system in the first round. 

McQueen argued that the problem was part of a wider issue within British society where "black British talent gets very much overlooked," and said that many had to move to U.S. to be recognized, something that has been a major discussion point in the U.K. industry for several years. "With the BAFTAs, if [filmmakers] are not recognized visually in our culture, well what’s the bloody point? It becomes irrelevant, redundant and of no interest or importance."