If Beale Street Could Talk composer on diversity in Hollywood

If Beale Street Could Talk composer on diversity in Hollywood

The Bafta-nominated composer of If Beale Street Could Talk said the growing diversity in Hollywood “is one of the most powerful and exciting things that’s happening in film today”.

Nicholas Britell wrote the score for Barry Jenkins’s drama, which tells the story of a young African American mother-to-be desperately trying to clear her partner’s name after he is wrongly charged.

On Tuesday, Britell was nominated for a Bafta for best original music for his work on the film, in a category also containing Spike Lee’s white supremacist tale BlacKkKlansman.

If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins has been nominated for a Bafta (PA)
If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins has been nominated for a Bafta (PA)

The two movies are among a diverse slate competing for the biggest prizes this awards season, alongside Marvel’s superhero block buster Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians, the first major Hollywood film to feature an all-Asian cast in 25 years.

Britell, who in 2017 was nominated for an Oscar for his work on Moonlight, said it was an exciting time to be working in film.

He told the Press Association: “Diversity and representation in film is one of the most important things happening today. I think it’s crucial that films represent voices from many backgrounds, many communities from all over the world.

“And that’s actually one of the most powerful and exciting things that’s happening in film today – that more people than ever before are finally getting the opportunity to make films and have them widely distributed.”

(From left to right) Ken Jeong, Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina and Jing Lusi, who star in Crazy Rich Asians (Ian West/PA)
(From left to right) Ken Jeong, Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina and Jing Lusi, who star in Crazy Rich Asians (Ian West/PA)

The 2015 Academy Awards sparked controversy after all nominated actors were white, prompting the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to trend.

Britell said the internet has contributed to a “social justice movement”, resulting in a more diverse workforce in Hollywood, but warned there is still work to be done.

He said: “People have been pushing for a long time and finally that work has begun to pay off. It’s pretty clear there’s so much work that needs to be done and there’s still not nearly enough representation in Hollywood of people of different backgrounds.”

Jenkins, who was nominated for best director at the 2017 Academy Awards for Moonlight, on Tuesday missed out on a Bafta nod for If Beale Street Could Talk.

He is, however, nominated for best adapted screenplay. Britell was full of praise for the filmmaker.

He said: “Barry’s incredible. He is unbelievably inspiring and he is a joy to be around. He is a very joyful and positive presence. He loves films and he loves music.

“The key thing for me in working with Barry that I find so powerful is how open he is to exploring ideas. There’s no idea that he doesn’t want to explore.”

- Press Association

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