Daniel Kaluuya has had a phenomenal year by anyone’s definition.
The English actor earned a Best Actor nomination at the Oscars for his performance in Get Out and took home the Rising Star award at the BAFTAs, before stealing plenty of scenes as W’kabi in Black Panther.
He ultimately missed out on the Academy Award to Gary Oldman, but Get Out still won Best Original Screenplay, so it will have been a night of mixed emotions for the man who made his name on Skins and Black Mirror.
However, even after that success, he was still forced to deal with an unwelcome line of questioning.
As the interviewer says Get Out “ticks a lot of boxes,” you can see Kaluuya’s head drop, as if he’s heard this too many times, and thought he might be able to escape it after the film won one of the industry’s highest honours.
Yes, the film centres on a different experience to any of the other nominees, however – even if that wasn’t the intention of the interviewer – focusing on the differences will have planted a seed in some people’s heads that it won as a box-ticking exercise, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Kaluuya’s response, therefore, is the sort of measured comment that ought to make people consider their language more carefully in future.
“We’re not boxes,” he says, “articulating the black experience isn’t a box… it’s our truth. We’re human beings.”
Get Out ultimately lost out on the Best Picture award to The Shape of Water, with Guillermo del Toro edging out Jordan Peele for the Best Director Oscar.
Peele did, however, become the first black screenwriter to win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, coming out on top in a category which also featured The Big Sick, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Still, if these questions still persist then it’s surely a sign not enough attention is being paid to authentic depictions of black experiences – the prevalence of references to ‘box-ticking’ questions the motives of the film (or of people’s support for the film) in a manner we see far less frequently when it comes to films with white leads.