George Clooney On Oscars Diversity: ‘We’re Moving In The Wrong Direction’

Two-time Academy Award
winner George Clooney has weighed in on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

The actor told Variety he
believes the Academy is moving backwards when it comes to diversity progress.

“If you think back 10
years ago, the Academy was doing a better job. Think about how many more
African Americans were nominated,” he told the trade mag. “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 we have a
lot of points we need to come to terms with. I find it amazing that we’re an
industry that in the 1930s, most of our leads were women. And now a woman over
40 has a very difficult time being a lead in a movie,” he continued.
“We’re seeing some movement. Jennifer Lawrence and Patricia Arquette have
made the loud pronouncement about wage disparity, have put a stamp on the idea
that we got to pay attention. But we should have been paying attention long
before this. 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.”

Clooney cited four films where 2016 Oscar nominations were
potentially missed.

“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,”
he said. “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.”

And the lack of
opportunity isn’t limited for just African Americans, according to Clooney.

“But honestly, there
should be more opportunity than that. 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,” he said. “We need to get better at
this. We used to be better at it.”

As previously reported on
AccessHollywood.com, Jada Pinkett Smith called for a boycott of the star-studded awards show after all 20 acting nominees
were white. Spike Lee announced he will neither attend the show nor watch the
broadcast.

Following
the Oscar nominations, Access Hollywood’s Liz Hernandez spoke to Academy President
Cheryl Boone Isaacs about yet another year with very little diversity
among the nominees.

“Well, it
is disappointing, I have to say. This is something that’s very important to the
Academy and important to me and we are going to continue this fight of the
discussion and the discussion is a good one,” she told Access at the
time.  “But, it is not just about talking, it is about doing and we
are very much still in that seat to drive this issue, to have more inclusion of
people of color and women to participate in one of the greatest art forms there
is.”

Erin O’Sullivan

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