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Screenwriter John Ridley reacts to his Oscar nomination for '12 Years a Slave'

Screenwriter John Ridley on set.
Screenwriter John Ridley on set.
Ryder Sloane

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The film "12 Years A Slave" has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Director. 


Screenwriter John Ridley joins the show to talk about where he was and how he found out about the good news. 

Interview Highlights

On the variety of films on his resume:
"It's funny, over time if you're fortunate, you build a nice career and you have these interesting moments and I would not, looking back, trade any of them - Red Tails, 12 Years a Slave and Undercover Brother. People are sometime surprised I've done different kinds of things but on a morning like this, you look back and reflect and I've been very fortunate to have a career at all."

On what this Academy Awards nomination means to him:
"It means a certainly positive peer review, that people that I have admired since I thought about getting into film or people who have just exploded onto the scene they look at what I was a part of and they think it's worth rewarding. They look at what we've done and they think it's worth rewarding and that's very special."

On adapting Solomon Northup's autobiography into a screenplay:
"For me, to have spent four years with Solomon Northup's memoir, to have this memoir that I was so unfamiliar with that I didn't know about...Four years later, months on from our release, that people know about Solomon, that people know his story and what he went through to write it and tell it, that people want to acknowledge that means a great deal to me because honestly, in that time, you can't spend time with a story and not become attached to it and beholden to it and recognize that if the words on the page are good it's because Solomon's words were great and that's very special to me."

On this year's increase of culturally diverse films in the Oscars discussion:
"When you look at the diversity of the kinds of films in general, and then the diversity within that storytelling, as much as I would have loved to have seen "Fruitvale" nominated, as much as there was so much good work within The Butler and so many places you could have nominated it, the fact that you have these outstanding films largely by and largely about people of color that have played so well. I think in some ways this may be a small victory to say "Wow, even the ones that didn't make it were quality and represented people of color."