SAINT PETER—The 2015 Diversity Awards were once again shrouded in controversy at the Diversity Ball held in Alumni Hall on Saturday night after failing to give Ava DuVernay’s Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic Selma any awards. The film, which chronicles Dr. King’s heroic march in Selma, Alabama, was thought to be a favorite in all awards with the word “Diversity” in the title.
Considered the odds on favorite for Political Conversation Making, Intersectionality, and Best Event, Selma fell short, losing to Anna-Marie Lopez, Aaron Ejikeme, and Rachel Willis, respectively.
After the ceremony, DuVernay said, “Obviously, this is a disappointment. I mean, we didn’t expect to win the Oscar, but this one was supposed to be our ace in the hole. I guess I’m handling this pretty well, but Oprah’s fucking pissed.”
David Oyelowo’s loss performance as Dr. King was perhaps the biggest snub of the night. Oyelowo’s physical and vocal transformation into the civil rights leader was considered one of the best of the year, but when the envelope was opened for Outstanding First Year, it was Madeline Kern’s name called instead of Oyelowo. Clearly frustrated, Oyelowo left the building after saying, “I get the old white guys not voting for me, but at Gustavus? Ridiculous.”
This is not the first time the ceremony has received criticism for its snubbing of films starring predominantly African-American casts. This year’s ceremony is reminiscent of the awards taking place in 1986, 1990, 2005, and 2014, where The Color Purple, Do the Right Thing, Ray, and 12 Years a Slave all went home empty handed.
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