Jane Campion speech: Venus and Serena Williams given apology by Power of the Dog director - what was said?
Jane Campion’s apology comes after the director won praise for her response to actor Sam Elliott and his ‘sexist and homophobic’ remarks about her new Netflix film
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The Power of the Dog director Jane Campion has apologised for the “thoughtless” comment she made about tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams whilst collecting the Critics Choice Award (CCA) for Best Director on Sunday (13 March).
Her unprompted comment about Serena and Venus Williams, and the subsequent backlash, came shortly after Campion had won praise for shutting down actor Sam Elliott after he criticised Campion’s film The Power of the Dog as a “piece of s**t” and bemoaned the “allusions to homosexuality”.
This is everything you need to know.
What did she say?
After winning Best Director at the CCA for The Power of the Dog, Campion addressed the Williams sisters, whose childhoods, tennis careers and relationship with their father and coach Richard Williams is the subject of the film King Richard, starring Will Smith.
Campion said it was “an honour” to be in the same room as them, and jokingly requested tennis lessons from the legends.
She thanked the rest of the Best Director nominees, who were all male - Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Denis Villeneuve (Dune) and Guillermo del Toro (Nightmare Alley).
Campion then added: “And Serena and Venus, you are such marvels. However, you do not play against the guys like I have to.”
What was the response like?
Campion’s comment was quickly met with backlash, with many taking to social media to point out the issues regarding what she said.
Actor Jodie Turner-Smith, who was at the CCA ceremony, tweeted: “[Jane] taking the time out of her best director speech to tell two Black women that she is more oppressed than them is PEAK white feminism.”
Producer Drew Dixon also wrote: “The nerve of Jane Campion to suggest her journey is harder than that of two Black women who’ve overcome racism, sexism and classism in one of the whitest richest sports in the world to become CHAMPIONS again and again is why I have trust issues with white feminists.”
“Jane Campion messed up big there. She could have thanked the police and gone after misogyny and sexism without involving the Williams sisters. Does she think they haven’t had to deal with sexism, misogyny and racism?” tweeted journalist Bonga Dlulane.
Writer Roxane Gay added: “It’s amazing how much real estate the Williams occup in people’s minds. And in addition to the racism of it all, Campion is suggesting that competing against men is more difficult/legitimate than competing against women. Has she met women?”
Has she apologised?
Following criticism, Campion issued a statement apologising to Serena and Venus Williams, describing her comment as “thoughtless”.
She said: “I made a thoughtless comment equating to what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved.
“I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world-class athletes.”
Campion continued: “The fact is the Williams sisters have, actually, squared off against men on the court (and off), and they have both raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world.
“The last thing I would ever want to do is minimise remarkable women.
“I love Serena and Venus. Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring.
“Serena and Venus, I apologise and completely celebrate you.”
As it stands, neither of the Williams sisters have responded to Campion or her apology.
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