Ever wonder why Ava DuVernay’s Selma seemed to get boxed out of the 2015 Academy Awards? David Oyelowo reveals that Selma was apparently blackballed by the Oscars voting body because the cast spoke out against police brutality.

In an interview with ScreenDaily, Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King in the film, said that the cast spoke out against the murder of Eric Garner, which led members of the Academy to not recognize the film.

“Six years ago, Selma coincided with Eric Garner being murdered. That was the last time we were in a place of ‘I Can’t Breathe,'” he said. “I remember at the premiere of Selma us wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts in protest. Members of the Academy called in to the studio and our producers saying, ‘How dare they do that? Why are they stirring s**t?’ and ‘We are not going to vote for that film because we do not think it is their place to be doing that.'”

“It’s part of why that film didn’t get everything that people think it should’ve got and it birthed #OscarsSoWhite,” he said. “They used their privilege to deny a film on the basis of what they valued in the world.'”

DuVernay backed up Oyelowo’s words on Twitter.

While the Academy has taken steps to rectify biased voting by adding more diverse members to the voting pool, it’s clear that there are still many more steps for the Academy to take before blackball campaigns like the one against Selma are actually a thing of the past.

With Oyelowo’s revelation, Paramount has announced that it is offering the film for free right now on digital download.


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Photo: Paramount Pictures

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