HFPA journalist denies mistaking Daniel Kaluuya for Leslie Odom Jr. in virtual Oscars press room
A South African journalist and member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association insisted on social media that she did not confuse British Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya for Leslie Odom Jr., during a press conference at Sunday night's Academy Awards.
"#DanielKaluuya I did not mistake you for Leslie Odom Jnr.," Margaret Gardiner tweeted Monday. "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."
She added, "There was a sound issue so I dropped the part about Regina King and restated my question. What does it mean for the community at this time. When I listed to the audio, I do understand, but there was no confusion."
Gardiner, whose Facebook profile notes that she is a former Miss Universe, asked Kaluuya a question following his win for Best Supporting Actor for Judas and the Black Messiah, in the virtual press room.
"I want to congratulate you on this. 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," she seemed to ask.
"Say that question again, please," the actor asked, looking surprised at the mention of King.
Gardiner then abbreviated her question — omitting the mention of King, who directed One Night in Miami (in which Odom Jr. played Sam Cooke and earned a nomination alongside Kaluuya for Best Supporting Actor) — and said, "I was wondering what it meant for you to win with the world in the state that it's in at the moment."
Kaluuya gave a short answer, saying it was "amazing" to have the Oscar honor and to be "appreciated in this way."
The journalist followed up by asking, "Does it mean more for the community, though?" Kaluuya gave a quick answer and the moderator moved on to the last question for him.
EW has reached out to a representative for Kaluuya for comment on the exchange.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Monday, Gardiner said there had been audio issues during the Zoom-held press conference. No sound immediately came from the journalist when first called on.
"When I said it, it came out that he couldn't hear me," Gardiner told the Times.
"I had wanted to ask him about winning at this moment," Gardiner also told the newspaper. "It's a zeitgeist moment of people finally recognizing the inequalities of organizations."
In response to a Twitter user who called out Gardiner for the original question posed to Kaluuya, the journalist tweeted, "I'm sorry you assume I can't tell these two talented men apart. 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."
She later added in a third tweet, "This is my last tweet on my mistake. I apologize to Daniel Kaluuya for my words. I apologize to anyone else who was offended by them."
The HFPA, which Gardiner is a member of, faced an outcry over its lack of diversity earlier this year. The organization behind the Golden Globes announced plans in March to diversify its membership. EW previously reported that the HFPA had plans to have "at least 13 percent of the membership be Black journalists." The decision came after more than 100 Hollywood public relations agencies sent the group a letter advising them that they would be instructing their clients not to work with the HFPA until changes were made.