"We as black people have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders or kings, or being in the center or our own narrative driving it forward," Oyelowo said at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
Honored by the festival as one of 2014's top actors, Oyelowo made his comments in response to a question about the recent backlash over him and "Selma" director Ava DuVernay not being nominated for Oscars for their widely praised work.
Speaking with an uncommon award-season frankness, the 38-year-old British-Nigerian said that in the past, black stories have been "told through the eyes of white protagonists because there is a fear of white guilt. So you have a very nice white person who holds black people's hands through their own narrative." With regard to black people, he continued, "We don't want to see that pain again, so you don't really go into what that pain was in an authentic way. Both of those things are patronizing to the audience."
Oyelowo said the critical and commercial successes of films such as "12 Years a Slave" and "The Butler" have started to "change the narrative. I know for a fact that 'Selma' got greenlit after both of those films made almost $200 million each."
He added, "Bless them for doing it. … But that's just the truth of the matter."