Baftas 2016: Campaigners picket awards ceremony to protest lack of racial diversity

Group call for quota system on all film judging panels

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The Independent Culture

A campaign group has staged a protest at the Baftas ceremony in London over the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry. 

The Creatives of Colour network, led by Alien 3 and Batman actor Leon Herbert, held a demonstration outside the Royal Opera House in an effort to highlight the lack of “diversity, opportunity and inclusion”.

Leaflets were distributed with the hashtag #BaftaBlackout, which has been widely used on social media .

The leaflets called for a quota system because “the TV and film industry are male, pale and stale [and] in fear of diversity, opportunity and inclusion”. 

One protester, Chidi Ejimofo, said he was taking part on behalf of one of his daughters, who he said wanted to enter the creative industries. 

He said: "I have a real problem with the fact that the film industry, as I see it, at present doesn't actually represent the groupings that you already have in society.

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"I find it astonishing that in a country that has so many talented actors and directors and people within the industry from ethnic minorities, you have such a gross under-representation when it comes to handing out awards, and I think that stems from the voting committee that they have in place."

He said he did not agree with a quota system because he believed it would “create other problems” but said the industry “should be looking for a fair playing field and that certainly isn't the case at present with the voting system that they have."

Bryan Cranston - who has been nominated for Best Actor for Trumbo - told a red carpet reporter he supported the protesters as “change needs to happen”.

Mr Herbert said the protest was “not against the Baftas per se, but against the film industry”. 

He said: “The problem is that all judging panels are white. I want to create a level playing field”. 

It comes as campaigners expressed outrage about the Oscars failing to nominate a single non-white actor in any of the major acting categories. 

The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite appeared as several celebrities - including actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith - announced they would boycott the ceremony in Hollywood on 28th February.

Only three non-white actors have been nominated for acting awards at the Baftas this year: Idris Elba and Benicio del Toro have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor whereas Star Wars star John Boyega is up for the Rising Star award.

Additional reporting by PA