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A timeline of activism on the red carpet

 

Is your outfit even worthy of awards season if there’s no hidden message behind it?

At last night’s Oscars ceremony, Natalie Portman donned a black and gold Dior Haute Couture outfit embroidered with the names of female directors not nominated for their films, from Greta Gerwig to Lulu Wang.

But Portman isn’t the first celebrity to show commitment to a cause on the red carpet. Here’s our pick of the top activism moments through the years.

Marlon Brando’s Oscar refusal, 1973

Sacheen Littlefeather speaks at the 45th Academy Awards on behalf of Marlon Brando (Bettmann Archive)

Marlon Brando didn’t even need to make an appearance to deliver his message. Instead, Sacheen Littlefeather, an Apache actress and activist for Native American rights, represented the actor at the 45th Academy Awards to decline the Best Actor gong for his performance in The Godfather. Brando missed the ceremony in protest against the ‘degrading’ portrayal of Native Americans in Hollywood films.


Ryan Gosling’s ‘Darfur’ T-shirt, 2005

Ryan Gosling at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards (Getty Images)

The Notebook heartthrob Ryan Gosling appeared on the MTV Movie Awards red carpet alongside his co-star in the film, Rachel McAdams, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the word ‘Darfur’ to raise awareness of the violence in Sudan.

Aunjanue Ellis at the NAACP Image Awards, 2016

Aujanue Ellis at the 47th NAACP Image Awards

Quantico actress Aunjanue Ellis made her feelings about Mississippi’s state flag – which includes the Confederate symbol – clear in the most dramatic of ways at the NAACP Image Awards. Her white gown was printed with the message ‘take it down Mississippi’, which she reiterated later that year at the Gracie Awards, where her dress read, ‘President Obama, take it down.’

ACLU ribbons, 2017

Elisabeth Moss at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (Getty Images)

The most-sported awards season accessory of 2017?

A blue ACLU ribbon, which made its way on to the outfits of everyone from Lin-Manuel Miranda to Elisabeth Moss, from the Oscars to the Emmys and the Tonys, to show support for the American Civil Liberties Union, a non-profit organisation that works to protect individual rights and liberties.

Red carpet blackout for Time’s Up, 2018

The 2018 Golden Globes black out (Getty Images)

Black may be a perennially popular choice for awards season, but in 2018 it was a loaded one: stars including Jessica Chastain, Meryl Streep and, yep, Natalie Portman again wore black to the Golden Globes to protest against sexual harassment and raise money for Time’s Up, a new initiative to fight sexual misconduct in Hollywood.

Protest against gender discrimination at Cannes, 2018

82 women took to the red carpet at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival in protest of the low number of female-directed films (Getty Images)

Cate Blanchett, Kristen Stewart and Salma Hayek were among the 82 women who took a stand as part of a red-carpet demonstration against a lack of gender diversity at the Cannes film festival in 2018, which came under fire for failing to showcase more films by female directors.

‘We are 82 women, representing the number of female directors who have climbed these stairs since the first edition of the Cannes Film Festival in 1946. In the same period, 1,688 male directors have climbed these very same stairs,’ two-time Oscar winner Blanchett said.

Lena Waithe at the Met Gala, 2019

Kerby Jean-Raymondd and Lena Waithe at the 2019 Met Gala (Getty Images for The Met Museum/)

American screenwriter Lena Waithe sported an ice-blue pinstripe suit to last year’s Met Gala, which had an important statement emblazoned on the back. Marking the Gala’s camp theme, Waithe’s jacket read, ‘Black drag queens invented camp’, serving to remind guests that the theme originated in a minority.


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