obama: the oscar's diversity problem is bigger than hollywood

"Are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?"

by i-D Staff
01 February 2016, 3:55am

Obama on the Court

Nearly a month after it was revealed no people of colour were nominated in any acting category at this year's Academy Awards, Barack Obama has offered his thoughts on the controversy. Meeting the ABC's David Ono, the President explained representation as a cultural imperative. "I think that when everybody's story is told, then that makes for better art," Obama explained "it makes for better entertainment, it makes everybody feel part of one American family."

When the very white nominations were announced, social media was first to respond with the #oscarssowhite hashtag. Soon actors themselves followed suit: Jada Pinkett Smith led the charge, which saw Will Smith, Spike Lee and Micheal Moore refuse to attend the ceremony.

As commentators like Will Smith and Mark Ruffalo have noted, what's happening at the Oscars is happening, less visibly, in many other American industries. The awards are symptomatic of a much larger issue, where African American people have more barriers to climb in order to reach an already-limited set of opportunities. Obama surveyed the situation with this pointed question: "I think the Oscar debate is really just an expression of this broader issue of 'Are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?'"

While this year's Oscars won't be giving people of colour the credit they deserve, last night's SAG Awards provided an uplifting counterpoint: Idris Elba took home Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Beasts of No Nation) and Best Male Actor in a Television Movie (Luther). Viola Davis, Queen Latifa and Uzo Aduba also triumphed. There's certainly no shortage of talent, and let's hope next year, the Academy don't miss the memo. 

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Academy Awards
Oscars So White