The #OscarsSoWhite debate has been raging on since the Academy Award nominations were announced a few weeks ago ignoring amazing performances from actors and directors of color including Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler to name a few. Even worse: For the second year in a row, all of the actors and actresses nominated were white.
Clearly this news was met with resistance as many influential folks such as Jada Pinkett-Smith, Will Smith, Viola Davis, Gina Rodriguez and even George Clooney called for Hollywood to seriously diversify itself from who is in charge to who is front and behind the camera.
Now, the topic has made its way to the White House with President Barack Obama recently weighing in on the importance of visibility of inclusion in American entertainment.
In an interview with Los Angeles ABC affiliate KABC, President Obama said, “I think that California is an example of the incredible diversity of this country. That’s a strength. I think that when everybody’s story is told, then that makes for better art, it makes for better entertainment, it makes everybody feel part of one American family.”
He also added that this issue is much larger than Hollywood’s hiring practices and the Academy’s sensibilities.
“As a whole, the industry should do what every other industry should do, which is to look for talent, and provide opportunity to everybody. 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,” he said.
The President’s comments come one week after the Academy announced that they are revising their voting eligibility to only active members and crafting concrete plans to diversifying its membership by 2020. A move that upset many older members who under these new rules would lose their voting privileges if they hadn’t worked in the past 30 years since becoming a member.
Currently, of the 6,000 plus Academy voters, 94 percent are white, 77 percent are male and the average age is 63 years-old.