Jane Campion Apologizes for Venus and Serena Call Out

Jane Campion Apologizes for Venus and Serena Call Out

by Kenna McCafferty

After a flurry of online backlash, Jane Campion quickly apologized to Venus and Serena Williams for her "thoughtless comment" during her acceptance speech for Best Director last night at the 2022 Critic’s Choice Awards.

Receiving accolades for her film The Power of the Dog, Campion started strong thanking fellow nominees, before addressing the tennis stars who were in attendance for King Richard, a screenplay based on their lives, saying, "Venus and Serena, you're such marvels. However, you don't play against the guys, like I have to."

Social media was quick to swoop in, finding Campion’s quippy comments about the Williams sisters unnecessary, dismissive — and all too familiar.

Fashion editor Gabrielle Karefa-Johnson remarked in an Instagram story that she was “0% surprised” by the unnecessary comment. “I’m so tired of black women being the butt of people’s jokes... some people will literally use any occasion to bring us down.”

Others, like director Ava Duvernay, hinted that Campion’s comment ignored Serena and Venus’ dedication to the women’s equity movement.

The comment about the Williams sisters comes off the heels of Campion’s response to Sam Elliot’s criticism of ThePower of the Dog. Elliot, who has acted in a series of Westerns, described the film as “homoerotic,” and a “piece of shit.”

Campion retorted, "What can I say? I'm sorry, he was being a little bit of a B-I-T-C-H. Sorry to say it, but he's not a cowboy; he's an actor. The West is a mythic space and there's a lot of room on the range." But her off-handed callout of the Williams invited criticism regarding how intersectional her feminist stance is, begging the question of who there is room for on Campion’s mythic range.

However, Campion backtracked her remarks shortly thereafter, commenting in Variety, “the last thing I would ever want to do is minimize remarkable women. I love Serena and Venus.”

“Their accomplishments are titanic and inspiring," she continued, "Serena and Venus, I apologize and completely celebrate you.” The all-star sisters have yet to respond, and we hope are celebrating the sweeping success of King Richard, for which Will Smith took home Best Actor, adding to the film’s five existing wins.

Photo via Getty/ Stephane Cardinale - Corbis