David Oyelowo Reveals Academy Punished ‘Selma’ Cast For Wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Shirts: Ava DuVernay Confirms
David Oyelowo and Ava DuVernay

Selma star David Oyelowo revealed that some of the Academy members refused to vote for the film because of the cast’s open support for the Black Lives Matter movement. During a session of Screen’s Screen Talks live Q&A series, Oyelowo said “Selma coincided with Eric Garner being murdered.” 

“That was the last time we were in a place of ‘I Can’t Breathe,’” he added referencing the recent killing of George Floyd, who uttered the same ill-fated words while pleading with police for his life. 

The actor said that some of the Academy members not only punished the film with their ballots, but they called the studio to criticize the cast fighting police brutality. 

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“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-H-I-T?’ and ‘We are not going to vote for that film because we do not think it is their place to be doing that,” said Oyelowo. 

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

Selma director Ava Duvernay backed up Oyelowo’s statements. She retweeted a link to the story with the words “true story,” attached.

In other Selma news, Paramount Studios is making the Oscar-nominated film available for free rental on digital platforms until June 30.