David Oyelowo at BFI Black Star Symposium

Actor and producer David Oyelowo (Selma, A United Kingdom, Queen Of Katwe) is one of the most passionate advocates for diversity in the film industry. He addressed the ongoing issue in the most high profile way with a keynote speech to the Black Star Symposium at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2016.

In the speech he called for more black-oriented period films to address the fact that people of colour are largely absent from depictions of British history, citing rejections he received for his own projects from industry veterans who only wanted to revisit stories that had already been told. “If my history, my indisputable British history, has never been visited, where does that put me?,” he asked. “If we are only going to look at things that need a revisit, you are wiping me out of this country’s history. That is unacceptable to me.”

He also urged decision-makers within the industry to actively address the issue by implementing a diverse talent strategy across their organisations. “If you look at your companies and half of your staff are not female and a decent percentage of them are not people of colour, then you are part of the problem… …You need (these) people working for you and you need (these) people in positions of leadership who can exercise their bias and who can exercise their perspective…. …You have to change the demographics of the people making the decisions.”

Does this match with your experience? Is he saying the right things? And how can these changes be implemented? Leave a comment below or on social media using the hashtag #CULTUREPOSITIVE

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