Not a few Nigerians had hoped and looked up to the emergence of Nigerian singer, songwriter, Tems, in the nomination list at the 95th edition of the Academy Awards (the Oscars), which took place last Sunday night at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, United States. She was nominated for her work as a contributor on ‘Lift Me Up,’ one of the songs on Marvel’s ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, becoming the first Nigerian Oscar nominee.
Real name Temilade Oyeniyi, Tems was nominated in the category of Best Original Song following collaboration with singer Rihanna; music producer, Ludwig Göransson; and Black Panther’s director, Ryan Coogler.
The singer was nominated alongside ‘Applause’ from ‘Tell It like a Woman’ (Diane Warren), ‘Hold My Hand’ from ‘Top Gun Maverick’ (Lady Gaga and Blood Pop), ‘This Is a Life’ from ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ (Ryan Lott, David Byrne and Mitski).
Tems lost to ‘Naatu Naatu’, the soundtrack of Bollywood blockbuster ‘RRR’. Aside from losing her first Oscar nomination, Tems’ extravagant outfit saw her trend nearly 24 hours. The bridal-style dress was said to be designed by Ukrainian-born, LA-based fashion designer Lessja Verlingieri of Lever Couture. New York Post, RollingStone, and TMZ magazines had the moment captured in jovial captions. “She stole the show — at least for the guests behind her,” one wrote.
Another wrote. “Twitter Is Feeling Sorry for Whoever Got Seated Behind Tems at the 2023 Oscars”. The songstress wore a puffy white gown that wrapped around the back of her head. And while she stunned on the red carpet, the dramatic dress was probably less loved by those sitting inside the Dolby Theater. A video clip showed a woman behind Tems struggling to see what was happening on the stage.
Photos of the “Crazy Tings” hit maker standing out in the crowd quickly went viral on Twitter, clocking up hundreds of thousands of views. Others also accused the star of being “rude” by blocking the view of other attendees. During the live broadcast, captured via various Tweeter handles, there were several moments where you could see the people right behind Tems peering over her shoulder to get a glimpse of the stage or of Kimmel, the host.
It doesn’t appear anyone said anything to the Grammy-winning artist. Following the backlash the singer received, a few Nigerians have tagged the criticisms as a racial attack. The Oluwabukunmi wrote: “Tems is in her first racially motivated Hollywood drama. Yeah, she’s doing very well.” Meanwhile, a section of users apportioned the blame to her stylists, who could have opted for a more functional dress after the red carpet.
“Tems, meanwhile, is yet to address the conversation herself — hopefully because she’s made the most of her Oscars night even without a win to celebrate. And besides, cocooned as she was inside her dress, it’s very possible the controversy has missed her entirely,” wrote CNN African Voices.