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Elizabeth Banks Apologizes for Forgetting ‘The Color Purple’ in Steven Spielberg Comments

Variety logo Variety 6/15/2017 Rebecca Rubin
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Elizabeth Banks took at aim at Steven Spielberg earlier this week during a speech at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards, calling out the famous filmmaker for failing to direct movies with female leads… but she omitted one important work.

She came under fire for forgetting about his 1985 film “The Color Purple,” which starred Whoopi Goldberg in her breakout role and earned 10 Oscar nominations, including one for best picture. On Thursday, she issued an apology after the backlash mounted via social media.

“I messed up,” she wrote on Twitter. “When referring to Steven Spielberg at the Women in Film awards, I framed my comments about his films inaccurately. I want to be clear from the start that I take full responsibility for what I said and I’m sorry. When I made the comments, I was thinking of recent films Steven directed, it was not my intention to dismiss the import of the iconic #TheColorPurple. I made things worse by giving the impression that I was dismissing Shari Belafonte when she attempted to correct me. I spoke with Shari backstage and she was kind enough to forgive me.”

“Those who have the privilege and honor of directing and producing films should be held to account for our mistakes, whether it’s about diversity or inaccurate statements. I’m very sorry,” she added.

During Tuesday night’s ceremony, Banks, who was being honored with the Crystal Award For Excellence In Film, was talking about chick flicks when she mentioned Spielberg had never made a movie with a female lead.

At one point, actress Shari Belafonte yelled out, “The Color Purple,” to which Banks said, “OK, I was wrong. But he didn’t direct it, he produced it.”

Spielberg did, in fact, direct the film, but Banks didn’t take back her point, adding, “I stand by it.”

Many thought that, in omitting “The Color Purple,” Banks was ignoring people of color.

“Do you have any idea what ‘The Color Purple,’ a movie about Southern poor Black women finding their voices, means culturally for Black women?” wrote Bitch Media editor Evette Dionne on Twitter.

“Black women are NEVER part of the conversation when White actresses or white women writers talk about women representation in Hollywood,” tweeted film writer Rebecca Theodore.

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