Steve McQueen’s epic film 12 Years A Slave took home the coveted Best Picture (Drama) prize at this year’s Golden Globe ceremony, but the win came after many speculated whether or not the biopic would be shut out.
Despite being a front-runner going into the show and garnering seven nominations, the film and its stars failed to score a single award until the end of the night. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, and director Steve McQueen all came up empty, but 12 Years picked up some much-needed momentum going into Oscar season when it took home the coveted Best Picture prize.
McQueen admitted he was “a little bit in shock” when he accepted the trophy, but backstage the British-born director said the film, about Solomon Northup’s kidnapping and life in captivity, was not just about slavery, but rather “human respect and dignity.” Going into tonight’s ceremony, Ejiofor, who was up for two awards, said, “The hard work is over,” and he simply wanted to enjoy the show.
Six Black actors—Idris Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, Barkhad Abdi, Kerry Washington, and Don Cheadle—were nominated for awards, but each came up empty-handed. The move left many wondering why actors of color continue to get overlooked on Hollywood’s biggest nights.
While 2013 has been called “the year of Black film,” when it comes to mainstream (read: White) award shows Black filmmakers and actors are often left out in the cold. In spite of critically acclaimed performances, Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker did not garner nods for The Butler, while Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan were also overlooked for Fruitvale Station.
Although I was upset and frustrated that Nyong’o, McQueen, and Ejiofor were passed over at this year’s ceremony, I began to question why mainstream inclusion is such a sought-after goal for many Black folks anyway, as if winning an award or hearing the adulation of a certain (whiter) crowd makes our art more valuable. It’s a point that was echoed perfectly by writer and blogger Lincoln Anthony Blades.
“African-Americans continually beg the white media for acknowledgement and acceptance like y’all don’t have about 1 trillion in buying power,” Blades, a Canadian, tweeted at the close of the show.
And he’s right.
While it’s nice to be recognized, our successes and accomplishments shouldn’t be predicated on whether or not our artists win an award.