Till Helmer Calls Out “Unabashed Misogyny Towards Black Women” in Hollywood After Oscar Snub


Director Chinonye Chukwu is calling out misogynoir in Hollywood. After her film Till was completely shut out of the 2023 Oscar nominations—including missing out on a perceived lock of a nomination for the film’s star Danielle Deadwyler in the best-actress race—Chukwu called out the industry’s “unabashed misogyny towards Black women.”

“We live in a world and work in industries that are so aggressively committed to upholding whiteness and perpetuating an unabashed misogyny towards Black women,” Chukwu captioned a photo that she posted on Instagram shortly after the nominations were announced. 

Deadwyler starred in Till as Mamie Till-Mobley, mother of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boy who was tortured and lynched while visiting family in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of offending a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, in a grocery store. Deadwyler received universal acclaim for her role as the grieving mother, racking up critics’ prizes as well as nominations at the Critics Choice Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Deadwyler triumphed in the Gotham Awards’ non-gendered Outstanding Lead Performance category over eventual-Oscar nominees, including Cate Blanchett for TÁR, Michelle Yeoh for Everything Everywhere All at Once, Colin Farrell for The Banshees of Inisherin, Paul Mescal for Aftersun, and Brendan Fraser for The Whale. 

Chukwu also received critical acclaim for her deft handling of the sensitive subject material, with many critics highlighting her decision to not include depictions of physical violence against Black people on-screen in the retelling of Till’s story. Chukwu is currently nominated for Outstanding Motion Picture at the NAACP Image Awards. Till currently holds a 97% audience score and a 98% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, and was included on the National Board of Review’s best films of the year.

And yet it was completely ignored by the Oscars. A last-minute, unconventional, and highly-calculated Oscar campaign for Andrea Riseborough for her work in the little-seen indie To Leslie ended up proving successful, pulling off the biggest surprise of the season by sneaking Riseborough into the final best-actress nominees, with Blanchett, Yeoh, Michelle Williams for The Fablemans, and Ana de Armas for Blonde rounding out the five. This resulted in the notable snubs of two Black performers heavily predicted to receive best-actress nominations: Deadwyler and Oscar-winner Viola Davis for her work in the critically well-received and commercially successful The Woman King. 

Chukwu is not the only person to notice a concerning pattern regarding the Deadwyler and Davis snubs. In her popular newsletter Hung Up, writer Hunter Harris discussed Riseborough’s word-of-mouth driven campaign and highlighted Deadwyler and Davis’s snubs, writing “the criticism, after those snubs, was how often black actors don’t benefit from the same network of white elite power maneuvers. And that’s true!” Film critic Robert Daniels also noticed the uphill battle that Black actresses have when receiving awards recognition in Hollywood, tweeting that “even if you have a great performance and you play the money game, as a Black woman you’re still at a systematic disadvantage to a white person who didnt have those advantages. That blows.”

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