Although she’s pretty much the nailed-on favourite to win at the Oscars later this month, having swept the awards season in all the Best Actress categories for her role opposite Denzel Washington in Fences, Viola Davis has warned against a possible future backslide in the diversity seen in this year’s film awards nominations.

Having scooped the BAFTA for her role as the beleaguered Rose on Sunday night (February 12th), Davis sounded a note of caution at the press conference afterwards, as predictions for the 2018 awards season have already started “and very few African American names are in there.”

Viola DavisViola Davis with her BAFTA on Sunday night

“I believe what still is a deficiency is that we have one year a plethora of African American movies and then the next year nothing,” the 51 year old star said.

Davis added that the prospects for her own daughter (five year old Genesis) might be worse than her own generation’s. “She has to understand that she’s gotta be the change she wants to be. She can’t assume people’s minds have been woken up – we see that in the political climate now. We have to be the instrument of change now.”

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During her actual acceptance speech, Davis took the time to acknowledge her late father, a horse groomer who “died of cancer” in a McDonald’s restaurant. “One of the most devastating things that went through my mind when he took his last breath was: did his life matter?” she said.

August Wilson, the playwright who produced the original stage version of Fences whose film adaptation has won so many accolades, had taught to her and the whole world, said Davis, that “our lives mattered as African Americans. The horse groomer, the janitor, the people who grew up under the heavy boot of Jim Crow. The people who did not make it into the history book but they have a story, and those stories deserve to be told because they lived.”

The 89th Academy Awards, whose nominees are much more diverse than the last two Awards leading to the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite controversy, are on February 26th.

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