BLACK VOICES

'Selma's' Wendell Pierce Talks Ferguson Connection, Oscar Snub

03/06/2015 06:09 pm ET | Updated Mar 06, 2015

Wendell Pierce is a busy man.

He's on a press tour for CBS' reboot of "The Odd Couple" and is also starring in "Brothers from the Bottom," a play about gentrification in New Orleans, which is showing in Brooklyn through the end of March.

To add to his catalogue, Pierce played the hard-nosed and charismatic detective Bunk Moreland in "The Wire," and was a protagonist in "Treme," which focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

And as if these past performances haven't made it clear, Pierce is no stranger to works about social issues -- but his role in the widely acclaimed (and Oscar-snubbed) film "Selma" further proves it.

In a HuffPost Live interview with host Marc Lamont Hill on Friday, Pierce shared memories of his time on the "Selma" set, and how he feels like that period of history can be related to the racial tensions of today.

"'Selma' was such a blessing. It was more than just a job, it was more than just a film. I knew we were going to make a cultural document to honor all of those nameless and faceless people we don't know. Who, on the last day of filming for me, they spoke to me and said, 'Wendell, make sure they remember us and tell our story'," Pierce said. "Those souls at the bottom of that Alabama River, the men and women who lost their lives on the side of those during the height of what I consider a period of American terrorism."

Pierce went on to say what many advocates for the #BlackLivesMatter movement have shared about the perils of being black in today's police culture. Interestingly, he also mentioned that his support of the movement, and wearing an "I Can't Breathe" shirt at the "Selma" premier, negatively affected the movie's Oscar potential.

"They had a series of anonymous voters who actually said they didn't appreciate the protests that I participated in wearing 'I Can't Breathe' shirts. The actual quote was, 'Do you want to be a Best Picture nominee or do you want to stir up shit?'" Pierce said. "They felt as though it was disrespectful for us on our premier night to kind of align with the people that were protesting ... they thought that was an affront."

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation here.

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