How to Use White Privilege: Honoree Brie Larson Calls for More Diversity in Film Criticism During Crystal + Lucy Awards

BY: JENNA CALDWELL

On Wednesday night, Brie Larson was awarded the Crystal Award for Excellence in Film at the Women in Film’s Crystal + Lucy Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills. Instead of using the once in a lifetime opportunity to thank her parents, managers, and other noteworthy figures in her life, (not only god, but Jesus too), the actress strayed away from Hollywood’s go-to acceptance speech. 

"My prepared speech has nothing to do with me,” Larson joked. “I’m so grateful to be up here to receive this award so I cannot thank my family and my team and instead talk about something that’s really important to me.”

Using her (literal) platform, Larson shined a light on the need for representation not only the screen, but rather behind it. 

“I don’t need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work about A Wrinkle in Time. It wasn’t made for him! I want to know what it meant to women of color, biracial women, to teen women of color,” she said. “Am I saying I hate white dudes? No, I am not. What I am saying is if you make a movie that is a love letter to women of color, there is an insanely low chance a woman of color will have a chance to see your movie, and review your movie.”

Larson then reminded the audience that earlier this week USC Annenberg’s Inclusive Initiative released a report that found that white critics wrote 82 percent of the 19,559 reviews studied for the top 100 films of 2017. Further, it found that white male critics wrote considerably more reviews (63.9 percent) than their counterparts who are white women (18.1 percent), underrepresented men (13.8 percent), and underrepresented women of color (4.1 percent).

“The talent is there; the access and opportunity are not,” Larson stated, explaining the lack of inclusion at press screenings and junkets, an absence of media of color and the inability of media outlets’ to include women and critics of color in their ranks.

“It really sucks that reviews matter — but reviews matter. Good reviews out of festivals give small, independent films a fighting chance to be bought and seen. Good reviews help films gross money, good reviews slingshot films into awards contenders,” she continued. “A good review can change your life. It changed mine.”

"A Wrinkle In Time" director Ava DuVernay praised the “Captain Marvel” actress calling her "a warrior" in a tweet.

Moving forward, the Oscar winner also announced that the Toronto and Sundance Film Festivals have committed to ensure at least 20% of critics credentialed for their next festivals will be from underrepresented groups.