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Brie Larson calls for more diversity in film criticism following USC study

"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!"
Image: Brie Larson
Brie Larson accepts the Crystal award for excellence in film at the Women In Film Crystal and Lucy Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on June 13, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.Chris Pizzello/Invision / AP

Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson appealed for more diversity in film criticism at an event in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, pointing to stark statistics from a recent study.

Accepting an award at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards, Larson drew attention to a University of Southern California study, published this week, that found nearly 80 percent of film critics who reviewed last year's top performers at the box-office were male — and predominantly white.

"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," Larson said, referring to the fantasy film, helmed by a black woman, that received relatively middling reviews.

"Am I saying I hate white dudes? No, I am not," she continued. "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, who won an Oscar for the independent film "Room" and will headline 2019's "Captain Marvel," called on Hollywood studios to screen their projects for underrepresented critics.

She also acknowledged that reviews can make or break a movie before it has a chance to find an audience.

"It really sucks that reviews matter, but reviews matter," she told the awards ceremony audience in Beverly Hills. "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."

Ava DuVernay, who directed the adaptation of "A Wrinkle in Time," tweeted an excerpt from Larson's speech and added: "@BrieLarson is a warrior. Much respect."

April Reign, an activist who spearheaded the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, applauded Larson's comments, saying in a phone interview that "film critics are part of a community I've been discussing since 2015," when the hashtag broke into the mainstream.

"Going to see a movie like 'A Wrinkle in Time,' I'm going to have a different response, a different reaction, than a white male would. That's not racism or bigotry. That's acknowledging that we all bring something different to entertainment," Reign said.

"Similarly, if a movie like 'Dunkirk' or '[Saving] Private Ryan' is being reviewed, I'd be interested in getting the thoughts of veterans. This isn't a racism issue, and it's not necessarily a gender issue. It's really about talking to the people for whom the movie was made."

At the same event on Wednesday night, ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey, the executive who announced the firing of Roseanne Barr following a racist tweet, received an award for excellence in television.

Dungey, the first black executive to run a major television network, seemed to acknowledge the cancellation of "Roseanne" in her speech.

"When we see things happening around us that are counter to our beliefs, our actions must match our words," Dungey said from the side, her 5-year-old daughter at her side. "That's not always easy to do."