The British actor described the outrage at Cumberbatch’s choice of words as “ridiculous” when asked about the controversy at the UK premiere of Selma.
“When you look at what he was actually saying it’s clear that he’s a huge supporter of black performers,” Oyelowo told Newsbeat.
“To attack him for a term, as opposed to what he was actually saying, I think is very disingenuous and is indicative of the age we live in where people are looking for sound bites as opposed to substance.”
Oyelowo added that he had spoken to Cumberbatch and offered his support.
“I feel the complete fool I am,” he said, after telling US talk show host Tavis Smiley that “as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult [to find acting roles] in the UK”.
Oyelowo chimed in to the diversity debate, arguing that there are not enough opportunities for black actors in the film industry.
“To get to the point whereby myself and Ryan Gosling are going up for the same role is going to be great,” he said. “That’s not to say that that doesn’t happen, it just doesn’t happen often.
“Excellence is the best weapon against prejudice. I intend to be part of the solution and not the problem. You’ve just got to keep on banging out good performances.”
The Academy was widely criticised after the Oscars announcement earlier this month when no black or Asian actors were nominated for awards. Oyelowo was snubbed in the Best Actor category at both the Oscars and the Baftas.
Oscars 2015 nominations
Oscars 2015 nominations
1/28 Birdman - 10 nominations
Academy Award nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone), Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Original Screenplay, Best Director (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
2/28 The Grand Budapest Hotel - 10 nominations
Academy Award nominated for Best Director (Wes Anderson), Best Picture, Film Editing, Production Design, for Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design, Cinematography, Original Screenplay, Original Score
3/28 The Imitation Game - 8 nominations
Academy Award nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actor ( Keira Knightley) Best Director (Morten Tyldum), Film Editing, Production Design, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score
4/28 American Sniper - 6 nominations
Oscar nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Adapted Screenplay
5/28 Boyhood - 6 nominations
Academy Award nominated for Best Picture, Actress in Supporting role (Patricia Arquette) Film Editing, Best Director (Richard Linklater), Original Screenplay
6/28 Whiplash - 5 nominations
Academy Award nominated for Best Picture, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Adapted Screenplay
7/28 The Theory of Everything - 5 nominations
Oscar nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne), Best Actress (Felicity Jones), Adapted Screenplay, Original Score
Working Title Films
8/28 Foxcatcher - 5 nominations
Oscar nominated for Best Director (Bennett Miller), Best Actor (Steve Carrell), Original Screenplay, Makeup and Hairstyling
9/28 Selma - 2 nominations
Oscar nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Song
10/28 Mr Turner
Oscar nominated for Production Design, Costume Design, Cinematography, Original Score
Reese Witherspoon is Oscar-nominated for best actress in a leading role and Laura Dern is nominated for best supporting actress
12/28 Two Days, One Night
Marion Cotillard has been nominated in the best actress category
Oscar nominated for Original Screenplay
14/28 Gone Girl
Rosamund Pike is Oscar nominated for best actress in a leading role
Twentieth Century Fox
Nominated for Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Production Design, Sound Mixing, Original Score
16/28 Still Alice
Best actress in a leading role nomination for Julianne Moore
17/28 The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies
Oscar nominated for Sound Editing
18/28 Into The Woods
Oscar nominated for Production Design, Costume Design, Best Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep)
19/28 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Robert Redford and Chris Evans film is nominated for Special Effects
20/28 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Nominated for an Oscar in the Visual Effects category
20th Century Fox
21/28 The Lego Movie
Oscar nominated for best song 'Everything Is Awesome' but snubbed in best animation category
22/28 X-Men, Days of the Future Past
Oscar nominated in the Visual Effects category
Alan Markfield / 2013 Marvel & Subs / 20th Century Fox Film Corp.
23/28 Begin Again
Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo in Begin Again which is Oscar nominated for best original song
24/28 Guardians Of The Galaxy
Nominated for Visual Effects, for Makeup and Hairstyling
Oscar nominated for Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography
26/28 How To Train Your Dragon 2
Oscar nominated for Animated Feature Film
Oscar nominated for Costume Design
© Disney Enterprises, Inc.
28/28 Inherent Vice
Oscar nominated for Adapted Screenplay
Show Racism The Red Card, the UK’s leading anti-racism charity, said that while they applauded Cumberbatch’s message to highlight Hollywood’s diversity problem, they condemned the use of the phrase “coloured” as racially inappropriate.
“Benedict Cumberbatch has highlighted a very important issue within the entertainment industry and within society,” a SRtRC spokesperson told The Independent.
“The lack of representation of people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds within certain industries in the UK is an issue which needs addressing, and we are pleased that Benedict has spoken out in support of more appropriate representation and of the views of actors and campaigners like Lenny Henry.
“In doing so, he has also inadvertently highlighted the issue of appropriate terminology and the evolution of language. Show Racism the Red Card feel that the term ‘coloured’ is now outdated and has the potential to cause offence due to the connotations associated with the term and its historical usage.
“Appropriate terminology differs from country to country; for example, we know that in some countries the term ‘coloured’ is still widely used, and that in the US the term ‘people of colour’ is quite common.
“During our work with young people in schools throughout England, we discuss appropriate language to use when describing people of different skin colours and backgrounds and explain why the term ‘coloured’ is no longer the best way to describe someone.”Reuse content