Jessica Chastain Pleads for Diversity at Critics’ Choice Awards Amid All-White Oscars Backlash

Jessica Chastain's speech
Critics' Choice MVP Award winner Jessica Chastain made a plea for more diversity in Hollywood on Jan. 15, amid backlash against the largely white group of 2015 Oscar nominees Lester Cohen/WireImage

MVP, indeed! Jessica Chastain used her acceptance speech at the 2015 Critics' Choice Awards on Thursday, Jan. 15, to appeal to her fellow A-listers about a very timely issue: diversity in Hollywood. Or rather, the lack thereof.

The A Most Violent Year actress, 37, took the stage at the Hollywood Palladium just hours after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed its 2015 Oscar nominees — including an all-white group of Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress contenders. 

"Today is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday," Chastain noted in her speech for the MVP Award on Thursday evening. "So, it got me thinking about our need to build the strength of diversity in our industry."

(Incidentally, one of the Oscars' biggest snubs was the dearth of nominations for the MLK Jr. movie Selma. Though nominated in the Best Picture and Best Song categories, it failed to garner any recognition for actor David Oyelowo or director Ava DuVernay.)

Chastain went on to plead with her fellow stars "to stand together against homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, and racist agendas."

Calling herself an optimist, she said, "I can't help but feel hopeful about the future of film — especially looking at all these beautiful people in this room. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.' And I would like to encourage everyone in this room to please speak up."

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