Andrea Riseborough Breaks Silence on Oscars Controversy: "I Am Grateful For the Conversation"

Andrea Riseborough is finally breaking her silence on the controversy surrounding her 2023 Oscar nomination. Many were shocked to learn that the actor had earned a best actress in a leading role nomination for her part in the indie drama "To Leslie," which triggered backlash on Jan. 24 when nominees were revealed, as it was discovered that a network of Hollywood stars had worked to promote Riseborough's movie.

Some even accused Riseborough of using her network to block out other stars — particularly "The Woman King" lead Viola Davis and "Till" star Danielle Deadwyler — from their shot at an Oscar. "I don't know what I know. I think once I have time to process everything, I might understand it a bit better," Riseborough told The Hollywood Reporter in a Feb. 15 feature.

She added that the whole process has been "confusing" for her but noted that "it's wonderful the film's getting seen." "I suppose it's a really bright ray of light," she added. "When any of us engage in anything, we want for that piece of work to be absorbed in some way. You can't control how people absorb it."

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Riseborough said she's still "coming to terms with what the nomination means, for me and for others," but she understands the roots of the controversy around it. "It not only makes sense that this conversation would be sparked, but it is necessary," she noted. "The film industry is abhorrently unequal in terms of opportunity. I'm mindful not to speak for the experience of other people because they are better placed to speak, and I want to listen." She added, "I am grateful for the conversation because it must be had. It has deeply impacted me."

Riseborough's Oscar nomination for "To Leslie," in which she starred as a mother with alcoholism, came as a complete surprise to many, considering the film reportedly only made $27,000. According to the Los Angeles Times, Riseborough's nomination was the result of a last-minute grassroots campaign spurred by "To Leslie" director Michael Morris and his wife, actor Mary McCormack — who apparently reached out to a number of stars with Academy connections to accrue support for Riseborough. Celebrities like Kate Winslet, Jennifer Aniston, Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow, Amy Adams, and Courteney Cox all subsequently hosted or attended screenings of the movie, and many of them also posted glowing reviews of "To Leslie" on social media.

After Riseborough received her nomination, negative chatter ensued almost immediately. Many accused her and the group of Hollywood A-listers who endorsed her performance of barring Black women from the slate of best actress nominees. "The Andrea Riseborough Oscars nomination proves misogynoir in Hollywood is still thriving," Glamour UK wrote. As a result of the controversy, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Jan. 27 that it was holding a formal review of Riseborough's campaign tactics.

"It is the Academy's goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner, and we are committed to ensuring an inclusive awards process," a statement from the Academy read, per Variety. "We are conducting a review of the campaign procedures around this year's nominees, to ensure that no guidelines were violated, and to inform us whether changes to the guidelines may be needed in a new era of social media and digital communication." Reps for Riseborough and the Academy did not immediately respond to POPSUGAR's requests for comment.

In response to the review, some stars, including Christina Ricci, leaped to Riseborough's defense. "Seems hilarious that the 'surprise nomination' (meaning tons of money wasn't spent to position this actress) of a legitimately brilliant performance is being met with an investigation," the "Yellowjackets" star wrote in a comment under Variety's Instagram post about the review. "So it's only the films and actors that can afford the campaigns that deserve recognition? Feels elitist and exclusive and frankly very backward to me."

Several days later, the Academy revealed that it had decided Riseborough's nomination would be upheld, though some of the tactics her team used would be further investigated. "The Academy has determined the activity in question does not rise to the level that the film's nomination should be rescinded," Academy CEO Bill Kramer wrote in a statement, per the Los Angeles Times. "However, we did discover social media and outreach campaigning tactics that caused concern. These tactics are being addressed with the responsible parties directly."

The 95th annual Academy Awards air on ABC on March 12.