Skip to main content

Steve McQueen won an Oscar for movie, 12 Years A Slave, but according to McQueen, while he was busy filming the flick, he was told that "a movie with black leads wouldn't make any money." 

"Everyone was telling me 'no,' and I didn't take any notice, just like before," McQueen said during an interview with The Big Issue. "I was told a movie with black leads wouldn't make any money internationally, especially one about slavery — and that was by someone supportive of the movie!"

He continued, "That picture changed a lot. I'm very grateful. The picture itself won Best Picture [at the 2014 Oscars] and I'm extremely proud of it, but it's what came after that I'm especially proud of. It was a difficult film to make. Lupita Nyong' o, Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sarah Paulson – all these people risked a lot."

McQueen added that "sometimes you have to ruffle feathers. I think about my art and my movies, and to me it's all about taking risks. You've got to throw yourself a curveball and experiment."

The 2012 movie went on to gross over $187 million internationally at the box office. Lupita Nyong'o won Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars, and the film itself won Best Picture and well as the award for Best Actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor.