Joker Star Joaquin Phoenix Calls Out Lack of Diversity After Winning Best Actor at BAFTA Awards

A "conflicted" Joaquin Phoenix made note of the "systematic racism" impacting the moviemaking industry when accepting the Best Actor prize for his role as Arthur Fleck in Joker at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards. Phoenix won the BAFTA over this awards season's repeat nominees — Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Taron Egerton (Rocketman) and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes), most of them beaten by Phoenix for Best Actor prizes at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards — and when accepting his latest award, Phoenix admitted he's "part of the problem":

"I feel conflicted because so many of my fellow actors that are deserving don't have that same privilege. I think we send a very clear message to people of color that you're not welcome here," Phoenix said during the BAFTA Awards in London Sunday (via Deadline). "I don't think anybody wants a handout or preferential treatment, people just want to be acknowledged, appreciated and respected for their work. This is not a self-righteous condemnation. I'm part of the problem."

He continued, "We have to do the hard work to truly understand systemic racism. I think it is the obligation of the people that have created and perpetuate and benefit from a system of oppression to be the ones that dismantle it. That's on us."

This year's BAFTA Awards faced criticism over a lack of diversity in its four acting categories, including the "#BaftasSoWhite" hashtag on social media, referencing the "Oscars So White" trending topic. Many have called out the awards for failing to nominate any POC actors in the Leading Actor, Leading Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress categories.

Prince William also addressed the topic when presenting Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy with the BAFTA Fellowship.

"We find ourselves talking again about the need to do more to address diversity in the sector. That cannot be right in this day and age," he said. "I know Pippa and Amanda share that frustration. BAFTA take this issue seriously, and following this year's nominations have launched a full review… to ensure the opportunities are available to everyone."

Renée Zellweger (Judy) was awarded Best Actress over Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) and Charlize Theron (Bombshell). Best Supporting Actress went to Laura Dern (Marriage Story) over Johansson (Jojo Rabbit), Florence Pugh (Little Women) and Margot Robbie, who was nominated twice in the category for Bombshell and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

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Best Supporting Actor was won by Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) over Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes), and Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, both nominated for The Irishman.

Phoenix next competes for Best Actor at the Academy Awards, where he's nominated alongside DiCaprio, Driver, Pryce, and Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory). Phoenix is the odds-on favorite to be named Best Actor, a win that would give Phoenix his first Oscar.