david oyelowo, george clooney and academy president respond to oscars diversity scandal
With the return of the #OscarsSoWhite on Twitter and a boycott announced by several stars, more big names have weighed in on the state of Hollywood diversity.
When it was announced last week that every single one of the 20 people nominated for acting at the Oscars is white, for the second year in a row, the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag began trending around the world. Director Spike Lee announced that he would be boycotting the awards over this issue and actor Jada Pinkett Smith questioned whether all people of colour should choose not to participate.
Speaking yesterday at the King Legacy Awards, David Oyelowo added his voice. "The Academy has a problem. It's a problem that needs to be solved," he says, explaining that, "A year ago, I did a film called Selma, and after the Academy Awards, Cheryl [Boone Isaacs, Academy President] invited me to her office to talk about what went wrong then… We had a deep and meaningful. For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of colour, actresses of colour, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable".
"We have a situation whereby currently the biggest movie in the world [Star Wars: The Force Awakens] and of all time is led by a black man," he continues, adding, "That film was knocked off the top spot this weekend by a film led by two black men, Ride Along 2. The biggest TV show on the planet is led by black people, Empire. The Academy is an institution in which they all say radical and timely change cannot happen quickly. It better happen quickly. The law of this country can change in a matter of months. It better come on," he implores, going on to suggest that something should be done before this year's ceremony: "The Oscars is on February 28. Cheryl needs us to pray that by that date, change is going to come".
George Clooney told Variety that the situation has actually gotten worse. "If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job," he says. "Think about how many more African Americans were nominated. I would also make the argument, I don't think it's a problem of who you're picking as much as it is: How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films?".
"There were nominations left off the table," Clooney adds: "There were four films this year: Creed could have gotten nominations; Concussion could have gotten Will Smith a nomination; Idris Elba could have been nominated for Beasts Of No Nation and Straight Outta Compton could have been nominated. And certainly last year, with Selma director Ava DuVernay - I think that it's just ridiculous not to nominate her". "There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars," he says, adding, "By the way, we're talking about African Americans. For Hispanics, it's even worse. We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it".
For her part, President Cheryl Boone Isaacs wrote a statement that was posted to the Academy's Twitter account in which she says she is "heartbroken and frustrated at the lack of inclusion," promising to do more to diversify the membership of the Academy, who ultimately vote for the nominees.
Text Charlotte Gush