BPI changes rules of eligibility for award shows after Rina Sawayama calls process “othering”

Rina Sawayama
via @rinasonline/Instagram

Last year, the pop star spoke out about the nominations process for the BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize.

In July 2020, Rina Sawayama highlighted her ineligibility for the two award shows, despite having lived in the UK for 25 years. Although she has indefinite leave to remain, she doesn’t hold a British passport and was denied entry into the nominations process.

“All I remember is living here,” she said online. “I’ve just lived here all my life. I went to summer school in Japan, and that’s literally it. But I feel like I’ve contributed to the UK in a way that I think is worthy of being celebrated, or at least being eligible to be celebrated.”

“I’ve lived here 25 years, but I am not British enough to even be eligible for the two biggest UK music awards”. She said it felt “othering” to be denied entry. The hashtag #SawayamaIsBritish trended online afterwards.

Today (24 February), the singer has announced that the BPI has changed its rules of eligibility in response to her comments last year. The rules have been revised to include artists who’ve resided in the UK for five years.

“I’m over the moon to share the news that following a number of conversations the BPI has decided to change the rules of eligibility for all nominees for the BRIT Awards and Mercury Prize,” she said. “Starting this year, artists (like me) will be eligible for nomination even without British citizenship.” Read her full statement below.

Revisit Rina Sawayama’s Aesthetic feature.