'The Woman King' Director Will 'Never Get Over' Film's Oscar Snub: 'It Speaks to Such a Bigger Issue'

The Woman King did not receive any nominations at this year's Academy Awards, despite garnering nods at other events like the Critics Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and the BAFTAs

Gina Prince-Bythewood attends ICON MANN's Pre Oscar Dinner at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
Photo: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

Gina Prince-Bythewood believes her film The Woman King deserved better.

While chatting with PEOPLE at Icon Mann's pre-Oscar dinner at Waldorf Astoria on Wednesday night, the director, 53, spoke candidly about her feelings on the film not getting a single Oscar nomination this year, despite garnering nods for best actress or best director at other events like the Critics Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and the BAFTAs.

"I'll never get over it, because what happened was egregious and ... it speaks to such a bigger issue in our industry," Prince-Bythewood told PEOPLE.

"But [it also speaks to] who I am, the people around me, these actors," she added, referring to the film's stars, which include Viola Davis and Sheila Atim. "We will never take our foot off the gas. We're ready to do something next. We're ready to do something as big, we're ready to do something together. So we always keep that energy no matter what happens."

Prince-Bythewood's words echoed earlier sentiments she shared in February, when the director, whose past films include Love and Basketball (2000) and The Old Guard (2020), spoke out for the first time about her film getting shut out of the Oscar competition. She told The Hollywood Reporter that "this awards season was an eye-opener."

"I've gotten so many texts and emails from people in the industry outraged by the Oscar nominations. Of course I'm disappointed. Who wouldn't be?" she told the outlet. "Especially because there was so much love for our film."

The Woman King - 2022
Tristar Pictures/Moviestore/Shutterstock

Prince-Bythewood said that despite the lack of recognition, the film has gone on to make a greater "impact," citing the movie's positive reviews from critics and audiences, as well as its "groundbreaking and historic" global box office numbers.

"Not only does The Woman King exist in the world, but it's a success in the world. ... So our film made money and clearly had a cultural impact, which is what we all hoped for," she also told THR.

"But the Academy made a very loud statement, and for me to stay quiet is to accept that statement," Prince-Bythewood added. "So I agreed to speak up, on behalf of Black women whose work has been dismissed in the past, is dismissed now like Alice Diop and Saint Omer, Chinonye Chukwu and Till — and for those who haven't even stepped on a set yet."

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As for what comes next for herself, Prince-Bythewood told PEOPLE that one positive thing that's happened as a result of the movie's success is that it has opened up several different avenues for stories that she could tell.

"Honestly, I'm waiting to take a vacation so I can get some clarity," the director said. "The beauty is I have great choices, and for me, it's what am I going to give my next two years to."

"The fact that I have to make a difficult choice on my hand is a great thing because it's good to have choices," she continued.

Added Prince-Bythewood: "On the other hand, there's so much I want to do. There's so many stories I'm going to tell. I'm just happy that I have the opportunity to do any of them."

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