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‘It Came Out Wrong’: White Journalist Trashed After Seemingly Confusing Daniel Kaluuya with Leslie Odom Jr. During the Oscars’ Press Conference

A South African reporter for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is setting the record straight following backlash and criticism after mistaking British actor Daniel Kaluuya for actor Leslie Odom Jr. during a press conference at Sunday night’s Academy Awards.

“#DanielKaluuya I did not mistake you for Leslie Odom Jnr. I’m sorry if it seemed that way,” journalist Margaret Gardiner wrote, Monday, April 28. “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.”

(L-R) Daniel Kaluuya and Leslie Odom Jr. Photo by Matt Petit/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images. Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images

She continued, “#DanielKaluuya 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’s questioning of the “Black Panther” star took place in the virtual press room following Kaluuya’s win for Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

“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 appeared to ask. “Say that question again, please,” Kaluuya asked, visibly surprised at the mention of King.

Gardiner then rephrased the question, this time leaving out the mention of King, who directed “One Night in Miami,” starring Odom Jr., who also earned a nomination alongside Kaluuya for Best Supporting Actor.

“I was wondering what it meant for you to win with the world in the state that it’s in at the moment,” Gardiner asked again. The 32-year-old gave a brief answer, saying it was “amazing” to have the Oscar honor and to be “appreciated in this way.” The journalist went on to ask two more questions, to which she received more short answers. 

Gardiner could be found in different parts of comment sections on Twitter defending herself in reports about her slip- up, including one post where she wrote, “The golden globes gave him the award, and nominated Regina.” She added. “But the oscars didn’t.  Leslie was in a gold suit, as the fashion editor I knew that and had earmarked him for the fashion gallery. Who could confuse the 2?”

When a critic called Gardiner out on Twitter about the mistake, telling her she needed to “own it” and “don’t insult us by lying about it,” the reporter responded, “I’m not lying.” She added, “Most diverse Oscars. Still, Regina not nominated. Daniel winning for a movie about race + what both of those things mean at this time in America. I know what I wanted to ask. It came out wrong. Sorry.”

Yet, social media users were not buying her explanation. Another person replied,” ‘It came out wrong. Sorry’ That’s how you should have started and finished your apology.” That person added, “Were all human, we all make mistake. No one is beyond forgiveness. Just own the mistake and move on. The back tracking digs an even bigger whole for yourself.”

Gardiner’s mistake come at a crucial time as the HFPA has faced criticism for the lack of Black journalists among its 87 members. On Monday, April 26, the reporter offered one last apology on the incident, writing, “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.”

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