Introducing Elinor Burkett, the Woman Who 'Pulled a Kanye' at the Oscars


There was only one real shock during last night's 82nd Annual Academy Awards -- more specifically, a shock of orange hair that bum rushed the Kodak Theater stage during Music by Prudence director Roger Ross Williams' acceptance speech for Best Documentary Short. Perhaps more stymying than the onstage assault was the one detail that separates the woman underneath the orange hair, Elinor Burkett, from the other delinquent stage-rusher she is being most compared to today, Kanye West. Unlike West, who crashed Taylor Swift's acceptance speech during this year's VMAs to proclaim that another artist deserved the honor, Burkett was actually attached to the category's winner, Music of Prudence, as a producer. So what's the big deal?

According to, who tracked down both Burkett and Williams within minutes of the bizarre speech, the issue was that the Academy only allows one person to accept an Oscar and since Burkett had voluntarily removed herself from the project after a creative-falling out (and ensuing lawsuit), she did not belong on the stage.

Both parties agree that the differences root back to the documentary's focus. Says Burkett:

"The movie was supposed to be about the entire band, Liyana. And the [band members] were very clear they did not want to participate if it ended up being just about one person. The director and HBO decided to focus solely on Prudence. [...] The final product, it's not that it's bad. It's not what I envisioned when I came up with this project. And it's not what we promised the boys in the band. It's just not what we wanted it to be."

Williams claims to have spent $6,000 shooting in Africa himself. Burkett claims to have conceived the documentary alone -- "Roger had never even heard of Zimbabwe before I told him about this." Regardless of those differences, the Academy still recognized Burkett as a producer on the film and included her in their nomination, but clearly stated that only one person would be allowed to accept the award.

Burkett told that Williams would not talk to her, let alone work out the award logistics:

"He won't talk to me! This whole week, there have been events thrown by the International Documentary Association, and he hasn't passed any of the invitations on to me."

And when their film's name was called, Burkett alleges that Williams' 89-year-old mother barred her from leaving her seat:

"I'm sure you saw, when we won, he raced up there to accept the award. And his mother took her cane and blocked me. So I couldn't get up there very fast."

Williams explains that since he owns the film, he was the only person entitled to accept the award.

"She has no claim whatsoever. She has nothing to do with the movie. She just ambushed me. I was sort of in shock. I just expected her to stand there. I had a speech prepared."

He said! She said! At least the ever-neutral Oscar Thank You Cam was there to listen to both parties' speeches after the onstage scuffle. Who do you think was at fault?

· The Story behind Oscar's Kanye Moment []


  • SunnydaZe says:

    At a classy and glamorous event such as the Oscars one should follow protocol and behave---

  • SunnydaZe says:

    Yo, Sunny, Imma let you finish but I think she had every right to jump on stage. In fact, I think she should have grabbed the Oscar and shoved that dude to the ground. That would have been the greatest Oscar moment OF ALL TIME!

  • Lucas says:

    agreed. Mama had the right idea.
    if this woman felt like the whole band should be talked about, nothing stopped her from making a second movie. I'm sure Mr Williams wouldn't have cared. Heck if she had addressed the issue the right way together they could have done one movie focusing on the young woman and then a follow up about the band. or even other young folks in the program.
    but she had to go and be a snit and sue like he ripped off her script. Saying he had never heard of a whole country. Ego just a tad. Plus she walked away from the movie so saying 'we won' is a stretch.
    I hope she has a better sense of class in the future. if she even has one as a producer. I sure wouldn't take her calls after that stunt.

  • Goodbye Sunshine says:

    Wow... I don't think I've ever seen anyone black-list themselves more quickly than this woman has. I understand there was a disagreement about what the film should or shouldn't be about but she just received a huge "F" for professionalism. Disputes like this go on all of the time but remain behind the scenes and out of the public eye: where they should be. Judging by her IMDB history (or lack there of), she really won't be missed anyway. Good riddance...

  • The Alanis-irony icing on this cake is that Burkett dressed as Kanye for Halloween last year.

  • anonymous says:

    This is really sad to see this part of humanity which is dissolving our moral fiber. This woman voluntarily removed herself from a film she feels was no longer a representation of "her" original view. So she no longer wanted to be a part of the film, yet she retained a Producer credit on a film she did not feel was worthy of her being a part of. When the Oscar winner was named she hopped over grandmas cane and sprinted like Carl Lewis to the stage to interrupt Roger Williams' to give a speech about a film she no longer wanted to be a part of and did not fully portray her vision. So basically she wanted no part of this film until it was nominated for an Oscar and she saw paydirt. Greed is destroying this world.

  • SunnydaZe says:

    "She hopped over grandmas cane and sprinted like Carl Lewis"
    That's classic!

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