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BAFTA winner Cord Jefferson slams lack of morality in show business

Cord Jefferson tells of the uglier side of the entertainment industry
Cord Jefferson
Cord Jefferson (Photo credit: Bang Media)

Cord Jefferson asserts that the entertainment business does not “operate on morality.”

The writer and director, 42, attacked the industry’s reluctance to fund “risky” projects after he picked up the Best Adapted Screenplay Award for his film American Fiction on Sunday, Feb. 18 at the 77th annual BAFTA awards in London’s Royal Festival Hall.

“So many people were so afraid to take on this movie and so afraid to finance it and give us distribution,” he said during the winners’ press conference of the comedy-drama about racist stereotypes.

“If the movie does anything — and I love the awards and recognition — but if the movie can do anything I hope it will serve as an example for filmmakers coming behind me, and those who are nervous about financing things.

“I think it is morally right to tell stories from underrepresented people. Unfortunately, this industry does not operate on morality — it operates on success … it’s a business.

“I hope this film’s critical and financial success affords other people opportunities and maybe changes the minds of people who are in charge of green-lighting films and TV shows.

“I hope it serves as an example for someone who is in the upper echelon of these companies and these streamers and change their minds about what audiences want and what will be successful and what critics want.

“If it serves as a reminder that taking a risk is good, then that will be a delight to me.”

American Fiction follows a frustrated novelist-professor played by Jeffrey Wright, 58, in the movie, who writes an outlandish satire of stereotypical “Black books” — only for it to be mistaken by snobs for serious literature and published to high sales and critical praise.

It is also nominated for five Oscars, including best picture and best adapted screenplay.

Jefferson — who beat the writers of Oppenheimer, All of us Strangers, Poor Things and The Zone of Interest at Sunday’s BAFTAs — added he had Wright in mind for the project while he was reading the erasure book on which it was based, adding he doesn’t know what he would have done if he had refused the part.

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