Andrea Riseborough opens up about the Oscars controversy
Andrea Riseborough is finally breaking her silence on the controversy surrounding her 2023 Oscar nomination. Many were shocked to learn that the actress had received a Best Actress in a Leading Role nomination for her role on indie drama To Leslie, which was announced on January 24 sparked a backlash as the nominees came to light when it was discovered that a network of Hollywood stars had been working to promote Riseborough’s film.
Some even accused Riseborough of using her network to bar other stars — notably “The Woman King” leading lady Viola Davis and “Till” star Danielle Deadwyler — from their chance at an Oscar. “I don’t know what I know. I think once I have time to process it all, maybe I’ll understand it a little better,” Riseborough told The Hollywood Reporter in a Feb. 15 feature.
She added that the whole process has been “confusing” for her, but noted that “it’s wonderful that the film is being seen.” “I assume it’s a really bright beam of light,” she added. “If either of us gets involved in anything, we want that piece of work to be absorbed in some way. You can’t control how people absorb it.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Riseborough said she’s “still coming to terms with what the nomination means to me and to others,” but she understands the roots of the controversy surrounding it. “Not only does it make sense for this conversation to be sparked, it’s necessary,” she noted. “The film industry is terribly unequal in terms of opportunity. I’m careful not to speak for other people’s experiences because they’re better at speaking, and I want to listen.” She added, “I’m grateful for the conversation because it needs to be had. It made a deep impression on me.”
Riseborough’s Oscar nomination for To Leslie, in which she starred as an alcoholic mother, came as a complete surprise to many, considering the film reportedly grossed just $27,000. According to the Los Angeles Times, Riseborough’s nomination was the result of a last-minute grassroots campaign spurred by To Leslie director Michael Morris and his wife, actress Mary McCormack – who appear to have a number of stars with ties to the Academy contacted to rally support for Riseborough. Celebrities including Kate Winslet, Jennifer Aniston, Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow, Amy Adams and Courteney Cox moderated or subsequently attended all screenings of the film, and many of them also posted rave reviews of To Leslie on social media.
After Riseborough received her nomination, negative chatter followed almost immediately. Many accused her and the panel of Hollywood A-listers who endorsed her performance of excluding black women from the list of best actress nominees. “Andrea Riseborough’s Oscar nomination proves that misogyny is still thriving in Hollywood,” wrote Glamor UK. As a result of the controversy, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on January 27 that it would conduct a formal review of Riseborough’s campaign tactics.
“It is the Academy’s goal to ensure that the awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner, and we are committed to ensuring an inclusive awards process,” the Academy said in a statement, per Variety. “We are conducting a review of campaign procedures surrounding this year’s nominees to ensure no policy violations have occurred and to inform us if policy changes may be required in a new era of social media and digital communications.” Riseborough and Academy officials did not immediately respond to POPSUGAR’s requests for comment.
In response to the review, some stars, including Christina Ricci, jumped to Riseborough’s defence. “Seems hilarious that the ‘surprise nomination’ (meaning tons of money went unexpended to position this actress) of a legitimately brilliant performance should face scrutiny,” the Yellowjackets star wrote in a Varietys comment Instagram post about the review. “So it’s only the films and actors who can afford the campaigns that deserve credit? Feels elitist and exclusive to me and frankly very backward.”
A few days later, the academy announced that it had decided to keep Riseborough’s nomination, although some of the tactics employed by her team would be further investigated. “The Academy has determined that the activity in question does not reach the level that the film’s nomination should be revoked,” Bill Kramer, the Academy’s CEO, wrote in a statement from the Los Angeles Times. “However, we have uncovered social media and outreach campaign tactics that have raised concerns. These tactics are discussed directly with those responsible.”
The 95th Academy Awards will air March 12 on ABC.