Until now, it seems as if only “Black Hollywood” had expressed outrage over the lack of diversity within this year’s Oscar nominations. Director Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith and Rev. Al Sharpton have called for a boycott of the awards while the Academy’s 1st African American president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs said she’s “frustrated and heartbroken” at the lack of inclusion.
Now, one of the most renown (white) A-list actors, George Clooney is speaking up on behalf of the rampant problem. In an interview with Variety, the eight-time Oscar nominee and two-time winner had a lot to say about the way in which African American actors and films are overlooked by the Academy.
“If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job. 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? I think that African Americans have a real fair point that the industry isn’t representing them well enough. I think that’s absolutely true” said Clooney.
“Let’s look back at some of the nominees. I think around 2004, certainly there were black nominees — like Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman. And all of a sudden, you feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction. There were nominations left off the table. 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.”
He went on to say, “There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars. 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.”
Actor David Oyelowo recently echoed Clooney’s sentiments. Ironically, during this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Oyelowo presented Isaacs with an honor named after Rosa Parks at the King Legacy Awards.
The actor deviated from his prepared speech to share that in 2015, he met with Isaacs following his “Best Actor” snub for “Selma”.
“We had a deep and meaningful [conversation]. For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of color, actresses of color, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable” he said.
Isaacs has been profusely apologetic about the outcome of the nominations when over 90% of the nearly 6,000 Academy members are white, 77% male with the average age being 63.
Oyelowo seemed to come to Isaacs’ defense in saying, “…This institution doesn’t reflect its president…I am an Academy member and it doesn’t reflect me” he added.