Clarke Peters hits out at Chloé Zhao being called 'woman of colour'

Actor Clarke Peters hits back at people labelling Oscar winner Chloé Zhao the ‘first woman of colour’ to win Best Director, arguing categorising people according to race and gender won’t help to tackle inequality

  • Chinese filmmaker Zhao won Best Director for her film Nomadland last night   
  • US-based director was first woman of colour and second woman to win award 
  • American actor Clarke Peters, 69, says we should ‘move away’ from labelling 
  • Feels director should be hailed as ‘great’ without pointing out race and gender  

Clarke Peters says we shouldn’t be ‘labelling’ people based on their race, after commentators pointed out that Chloé Zhao is the first ‘woman of colour’ to win the Oscar for Best Director last night.  

Chinese-born and US-based filmmaker Zhao, 39, became the second woman ever to win the coveted accolade at the Academy Awards last night for her third feature film Nomadland, following Kathryn Bigelow who won for The Hurt Locker in 2009. 

Appearing on Good Morning Britain today, the 69-year-old actor – said Zhao should just be considered ‘great’ – without pointing out her race and gender. 

Peters, whose co-star Frances McDormand won the Best Actress gong for her performance in the film, argued that racism is ‘something that happens in people’s homes and their communities’ and there are different ways to ‘redress the issue’. 

Clarke Peters, pictured in New York in 2015, says we shouldn’t be ‘labelling’ people based on their race

Chinese-born and US-based filmmaker Zhao, 39, became the second woman ever to win the gong for Best Director at the Academy Awards last night for her third feature film Nomadland

Speaking from his New York home, he said: ‘There was something I heard earlier or read earlier about actors or directors of colour, the second female of colour to have have received an Oscar and I thought, “How many colours are there?”. 

‘When are we going to move away from this? When will we say. “This woman is great”? Why do we have to label this? Most Chinese people do not want to be considered people of colour.’ 

Host Adil Ray quickly hit back at Peters, arguing that the Oscars this year has been ‘about pushing diversity’. 

‘I hear what you’re saying, you don’t want to be seen as the brown or the black actor, said Adil. ‘But it is important we recognise people from different backgrounds and cultures are winning these awards.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain today, the 69-year-old actor said Zhao should just be considered ‘great’ – without pointing out her race and gender

Host Adil Ray quickly hit back at Peters, arguing that the Oscars this year has been ‘about pushing diversity’

‘It inspires children who may have the same background of Chloe to think, “That can be me”. It’s important to highlight isn’t it?’ 

When questioned further by Peters on the reason for pointing out race or gender during an awards show, he said: ‘Young people who are watching might think, I can be proud of my identity and think it’s not just white people who can win Oscars. 

‘I agree in an ideal world, but right now are we in the phase where we need to promote these minorities that go on to win awards.’ 

But the actor went on to argue that the ‘system is broken’ and that we need a ‘reset which does not identify people by their sexual persuasion or ther colour or so on’. 

‘We’re just people’, he said. ‘I recognise we’re trying our best at this point in time to redress mistakes from the past, but I put this question out because it needs to be put constantly forward so we are ahead of the curve and find the right way to change. 

A former co-star of Peters, Frances McDormand, won the Best Actress gong for her performance in the film

‘I understand the politics and history and somewhere along the line the major mistakes were made and now we have to redress those, racism is something that happens in people’s homes and their communities. 

‘That’s what needs to be addressed, it’s a whole consciousness that needs to change.’  

Chloe’s trailblazing evening also included becoming the first woman to get four Oscar nominations in a single year, including the Best Film Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay categories.

Nomadland focuses on the lives of older Americans who live and travel in their vehicles as modern-day nomads, mainly due to economic reasons, and her cast featured a number of real-life men and women who live in their RVs.

Accepting her gong Chloe said: ‘So this is for anyone who has the faith and the courage to hold on to the goodness in themselves. 

‘And to hold on to the goodness in each other. No matter how difficult it is to do that. And this is for you, you inspire me to keep going. Thank you.’ 

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