A member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is denying she confused Daniel Kaluuya with Leslie Odom Jr., even though the exchange was recorded backstage at Sunday’s Oscars.
During the virtual press conference with the winners, Margaret Gardiner began her question by saying to Kaluuya: “I want to congratulate you on this. I’ve been following you since the beginning of your career, and I was wondering what it meant for you to be directed by Regina [King], what this means for you at this time with the world in the state that it’s in.”
The British-Ugandan star won the best supporting actor award for his role as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, which was directed by Shaka King. Odom, who is from New York, was nominated in the same category for playing legendary singer Sam Cooke in One Night in Miami, directed by Regina King.
Appearing confused by the reporter’s question, Kaluuya responded: “Say that question again, please.”
Gardiner, who is White and writes for The Sunday Times of South Africa, then rephrased her question and asked him what the win meant for “the community.”
Entertainment journalists tore into Gardiner on social media, prompting her to try and explain what happened.
In a tweet thread posted Monday, the South African journalist wrote: “#DanielKaluuya I did not mistake you for Leslie Odom Jnr. I’m sorry if it seemed that way. I had wanted to ask about Regina King not being nominated as a director for One Night in Miami, and your win for Judas and the Black Messiah for the community at this time.”
In additional tweets, she said there was an issue with the audio and she decided to drop the Regina King part and restate her question. Her final tweet on the matter said, “This is my last tweet on my mistake. I apologize to Daniel Kaluuya for my words.”
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Gardiner is a member of the HFPA, which has been embroiled in controversy since the Los Angeles Times published an exposé on the organization in February. The article revealed none of the group’s 87 members are Black and of the international journalists in the group, “relatively few” work full time for major overseas outlets.
After the uproar, the group behind the Golden Globes vowed to increase diversity in its ranks.
Watch the exchange below at 4:44 mark.