Journalist claims she didn’t mistake Daniel Kaluuya for Leslie Odom Jr.

93rd Oscars, Academy Awards
Between Glenn Close doing “Da Butt” and Daniel Kaluuya discussing his parents’ nocturnal habits, the Oscars were, for a lack of a better word, interesting. But what would a night at the Oscars be without some drama darling? Oscaring while Black became a thing due to a case of mistaken identity. During the press conferences, HFPA journalist Margaret Gardiner confused Daniel Kaluuya, who had just won Best Supporting Actor for Judas and the Black Messiah, with Leslie Odom, Jr who was nominated in the same category forOne Night in Miami. Margaret asked Daniel what it meant for him to be directed by Regina King. Regina King actually directed Leslie in Last Night in Miami. The next day, Gardiner sent out a tweet denying that she mistook Daniel for Leslie. Gardiner doubled down when folks on Twitter pushed back with her own words. More chaos ensued, and Margaret made her Twitter account private. Below are more details on the debacle from Indie Wire:

“I want to congratulate you on this,” Gardiner told Kaluuya. “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.”

Kaluuya responded by telling Gardiner, “Say that question again, please,” although it was unclear if that was because of an audio issue or because he was confused by her question about him working with Regina King. When Gardiner asked her question again, she reframed it and did not mention Regina King.

Gardiner took to social media the day after the Oscars to claim she did not confuse Kaluuya for Odom, writing on Twitter, “Daniel Kaluuya, I did not mistake you for Leslie Odom Jr. 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.”

“I had wanted to ask him about winning at this moment. … It’s a zeitgeist moment of people finally recognizing the inequalities of organizations,” Gardiner told The Los Angeles Times. “When I said it, it came out that he couldn’t hear me.”

“I’m sorry you assume I can’t tell these two talented men apart,” Gardiner tweeted in a reply to critics. “I messed up my question. I won’t be believed. I apologize to Daniel, the assumption reflects the very world I wanted to ask about. I cannot defend this. I apologize.”

[From Indie Wire]

I am gonna say something that maybe folks haven’t thought about. It is possible that Gardiner confused the directors. Regina King and Shaka King (who directed Judas and the Black Messiah) share the same surname and it would be easy to misread the two names. With that being said, the way that Margaret handled the situation made her look like a straight up as*hole. She played the victim by saying, “No one will believe me,” and made her Twitter account private, which makes it even worse. The fact that HFPA has no Black members and has spent its time refusing press conferences for Black shows and movies, makes it seem likely that Margaret WOULD confuse Daniel and Leslie.

I know that some white people have a hard time telling Black people apart but Leslie and Daniel look absolutely nothing alike. This lady sounds like she may have confused two Black people. Either way, she needs to just acknowledge that she did because we ALL heard her question. Maybe she read her notes wrong, I don’t know, but we are living in a time where people now recognize racism and its microaggressions. HFPA needs to be more inclusive and the industry is seeing them for who they are. Perhaps adding those thirteen Black members for next year’s award season will help them avoid these sort of situations. Anyways congrats to Daniel on his win.

The exchange:

Some responses:

93rd Oscars, Academy Awards

93rd Oscars, Academy Awards

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38 Responses to “Journalist claims she didn’t mistake Daniel Kaluuya for Leslie Odom Jr.”

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  1. Darla says:

    just came here to say that I think he’s so gorgeous.

  2. Alexandria says:

    That lady is embarrassing herself. Just own it and apologize. Say you’ll do better.

    • Watson says:

      Exactly!!! Just apologize! Why do people dig themselves further into the mud? She’s an idiot!

    • Pamuk says:

      It’s that simple, why can’t they understand it🤷‍♀️ instead she made a complete karen white tears mess.

  3. Becks1 says:

    So reading this, my interpretation was more that she got the movies confused, rather than the actors. Like she was confused about which movie Daniel won for or who directed it. That’s not really any better, because then she just can’t keep movies starring/directed by black people straight. So actually not any better at all now that I’m typing it out. I guess it says a lot about the HFPA and its issue with diversity though.

    • Darla says:

      And how can she say she has followed his career and all that nonsense? I mean, I know who tf he is and which film he was in, and I’m not a reporter covering the oscars. These fools always tell on themselves when they start denying stuff.

      • Becks1 says:

        That’s the part that’s bugging me too! She’s a reporter covering the oscars, and she can’t keep straight what actors were nominated for which movie? She didn’t confuse them on the red carpet – it was AFTER he won, at that point she 100% should have known that Daniel Kaluuya won for Judas and the Last Messiah directed by Shaka King. There should have been no confusion, even if she could not tell Daniel and Leslie apart. But this sounds like she just saw that a black man won and assumed it was Leslie Odom Jr for One Night in Miami.

        It’s really bad and she doesn’t really have a defense.

  4. Chill says:

    There are NO EXCUSES. This reporter blew it. She was not prepared. Simple. She showed her ignorance. THIS IS THE UK.

  5. hindulovegod says:

    Who will risk going to the Golden Globes next year? Its brand is racism now. Just ridiculously tone deaf racists everywhere you look. NBC might continue to let it keep dying this slow gruesome death but will the publicists participate?

  6. Haylie says:

    Except that she did. Should we be calling this liar karen a journalist?

  7. ABritGuest says:

    She’s so embarrassing. Better to have owned it and apologise then this blatant lie

  8. Nev says:

    If ANYONE out there has a hard time telling black people apart, that is WILD and they need to have a hard conversation with themselves.

    • Darla says:

      Well, a lot of white people do, and there have even been studies about cross-racial identification. It’s something that should be talked about because I personally believe a lot of black men are in prison because they were misidentified by white witnesses.

      • Jess says:

        Yea. I’ve heard about studies showing those difficulties. And I’ve always wondered if it’s just about who you are around and exposed to. I went to high school out East and everybody constantly confused me and one of my friends. Our bodies and faces were very different but we were both blonde and of Scandinavian descent in a school that didn’t have a lot of either, so I always wondered if that was why. I also agree about the eye witness issue. Eye witness are notoriously awful and then you add in white people not being able to -or not caring to- tell people of different ethnicities apart and it’s a mess.

      • Veronica S. says:

        I was actually curious about this, since I wondered how much of it was a “white” issue versus a “majority ethnic population” issue, so I looked it up on google:

        https://www.theguardian.com/science/neurophilosophy/2011/aug/15/people-other-races-look-alike

        https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2000/12/face

        It seems to be a bit of a complex answer. The latter link suggests some of it is definitely mental racial segregation, since we tend to group together certain traits as generally distinct features of “other” different from ourselves, and it’s difficult to parse how much of that is malicious or indoctrinated racism versus your brain organizing best by what defines the ethnic majority in your country. Basically, when we encounter a different ethnicity, our brains focus on the specific ethnic features rather than the individual ones.

        However, the first link suggests that we can be trained out of that somewhat by simply interacting with more people of different ethnic groups, so our brains start seeing their features in a more individualistic light. (Across the board, it did say people with very unique or stand out features were always more identifiable, though.) So I think some of the problem is highlighting the fact that American media is still dominated by white faces. We’re slowly seeing representation increase, but maybe not enough for people who don’t come from more ethnically mixed areas to catch up the way they should.

    • Izzy says:

      Honestly, this is a thing. When I was in law school, and this was 20 years ago, there were two people in our first year class who shared some physical characteristics: Black men, very tall, broadly built. Let’s call them Bob and Jim. Here’s the thing: THEY LOOKED NOTHING ALIKE. Their facial features are NOT similar enough to justify this confusion, yet so many people mixed them up, they got t-shirts made, Jim’s said “I am not Bob” and Bob’s said “I am not Jim.” There’s a picture of it in our yearbook. I was amazed there were so many people out there who are that befuddled, and I figured if their powers of observation were that bad, it might not bode well for their careers.

      • ItReallyIsYouNotMe says:

        It’s been a long time, but I recall being surprised that the research showed that all groups have trouble distinguishing people from different racial/ethnic groups. Still not an excuse because this reporter was there to report on the Oscars and should have been better prepared (as others have already pointed out). She looks sloppy. I would respect her more if she would just own it and say that she is embarrassed, never thought that it would be her who would make such a gaffe, and that it’s a good indication of how far this world still has to go to improve race relations.

    • TaraBest says:

      I regularly have trouble telling actors apart, especially white men around the same age, “war” movies are extra difficult for me because all the men are wearing the same uniform and I heavily rely on the costumes to tell them apart. My boyfriend is shocked about once a week when I say, “oh, look at so-and-so” and he has to tell me I’ve got it completely wrong.

      That being said, Daniel and Leslie don’t look ANYTHING alike and I have no trouble telling them apart. I can believe that she got the directors mixed up when speaking, but as a professional it’s her job to know these things and there really is no excuse.

    • Rice says:

      This reminds me of the time when a white interviewer told Samuel L. Jackson that he enjoyed his Allstate TV commercials (that was actually Dennis Haysbert), to which the Badass Legend replied, “Contrary to popular belief, we don’t all look alike!”

  9. Lauren says:

    She could have easily said that she had confused the movie directors, apologized for the confusion, and leave it at that, but nope. She just had to be messy, like anything linked to the Golden Globes.

    • lucy2 says:

      This.
      I could see it being an honest mistake if both directors have the same last night, but doubling down and acting the victim NEVER works out well in a situation like this.
      “Oh no, I mixed up the directors names, I’m so sorry!” is all she needed to say.

  10. StephB says:

    It’s the gaslighting for me. Ignore what I said and listen to me now. No wait, I didn’t say what I said listen to me. Who cares what I say…listen to me always.

    • Jais says:

      “Listen to me always” Scary but that’s pretty much what’s she’s saying. And no, at the very least she was unprepared and unprofessional so she should be fired and no one should have to listen.

  11. Léna says:

    The explanation makes 0 sense. Why would she even ask Danial about Regina King?? She cleary confused the two actors, or the two movies, or the 2 directors. Anyway, she should have prepared a little bit more. It’s not that hard!

  12. BlueSky says:

    It seems she didn’t see either film. HFPA avoids predominantly black movies like the plague. I don’t understand the seemingly lashing out at Daniel. I don’t remember him saying anything about this unless I missed something. Either way she looks like an a-hole and she can shove her non apology up her a$$.

  13. lobstah says:

    Came here because I thought the headline said that a journalist mistook Daniel Kaluuya for Leslie Jones and I was really confused….I’ll see myself back to bed.

  14. Louise177 says:

    As bad as confusing the actors was, her attitude and playing the victim made it 100x worse. Her explanation made no sense. She should have owned up to her mistake instead of being so defensive.

    • Nina says:

      Visited some friends in South Africa. You see that attitude and gaslighting by white South Africans on a daily basis. You stand there with your mouth open and they will double down just like this journalist did.

  15. Cee says:

    They weren’t even dressed the same? I’m so confused.

  16. Mina_Esq says:

    Look, it happens. Our brains organize information in ways that we can’t control very much. It doesn’t make you a racist. However, trying to gaslight everyone about what happened after the fact does make you an a-hole, at the very least. She could have used this moment to highlight that maybe this wouldn’t happen if we had more POC nominated for more awards on a more consistent basis. Our brains would then have to find other ways to organize. As an example of not being able to control how our brain remembers people, I’ve now basically memorized Daniel as the guy that made an awkward joke at the Oscars about his parents having sex lol I know he is moreeeee than that love you Daniel lol

  17. TheOriginalMia says:

    This journalist isn’t very good at her job. Daniel was nicer to her than she deserved. Not only did she double down on this mess, but she was the one who asked Youn Yuh-Jung about Brad Pitt’s smell. It was insulting. Like the Youn said…she wasn’t a dog. This woman should not be covering the Oscars if she can’t come up with better questions than E! Red carpet reporters.

  18. Renee says:

    She could have very well been confused by the director’s name, but she still did not own her mistake. (I doubt it but I will be charitable and give her the benefit of the doubt). The problem is She became defensive and double downed on her defensiveness. Daniel was extremely gracious and showed how a better person behaves.

  19. Veronica S. says:

    My whole thing is like…Daniel Kaluuya has SUCH distinct features to me, especially around his eyes. And, okay, I can see how you confuse people’s names when you only see them in brief passing. God knows when I worked retail, I’d confuse names of some of the holiday temps before I sorted them out after a week or two. But, like….she’s a reporter!! Reporters briefed on who they’re interviewing!! It’s literally their job to know their subject matter!! It’s literally their only job!!

    And even if it WAS legitimately a mistake and not a microaggression, just own your mistake! Say you f*cked up, apologize, admit you need to better, and move on!

  20. IMARA219 says:

    There were just zero excuses for this. Her question doesn’t make a lick of sense if she confused the actors and it wouldn’t make sense if she confused the directors either because that’s like saying she sucks hard core at her job. It was beyond disrespectful and her attitude afterward was even worst. What really chaps my gizzard over this encounter is that it just shows that a brilliant Black actor could win one of the greatest honors in his professional career and it will still not be good enough or recognized appropriately. This was a shining moment for him and instead, he had to navigate the waters of systematic racism– that’s sad.

  21. Kebbie says:

    Her explanation makes no sense and is obnoxious and racist on its own. Why would she be asking Daniel about Regina King at all? Because they’re both black? What do they have in common besides that?

    If nothing else, this woman is absolutely terrible at her job and it’s frightening that she’s a part of the HFPA.

  22. sunny says:

    She did and every black person has had the experience of being mistaken for another black person(usually in a professional setting). Classic mircoagression. I felt terrible for Daniel that it happened at that moment.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Yes! My heart goes out to him, it is really upsetting that he had his moment of victory tarnished by microaggression. Even at the highest levels of success, this still happens. It’s really sad.