Amid growing calls for a boycott of this years Academy Awards because of the failure to nominate a single non-white actor, George Clooney has said the industry is “moving in the wrong direction”.
“If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job,” Clooney told Variety.
“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?”
Clooney said it was not just the issue of minority actors that the industry needed to consider. He said that in the 1940s, there were many leading roles for women.
“And now a woman over 40 has a very difficult time being a lead in a movie,” he added.
“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 said that if one looked back to as recently as 2004, there were many more people of color receiving nominations, among them Don Cheadle, and Morgan Freeman.
“And all of a sudden, you feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction,” he said.
“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.”
Clooney spoke out amid widespread outcry over the announcement last week of the Oscar nominations and the revelation that there were no non-white actors among them.
Twitter erupted in a “Oscars so White” hashtag, and the New York Times asked if the Oscars were “so dumb.”
Over the weekend, Spike Lee announced plans to boycott the ceremony, and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs issued a statement saying she was “frustrated about the lack of inclusion.” The actress Jada Pinkett Smith also asked whether people of colour should decline to attend the event.
Clooney said there simply ought to be more opportunity.
“There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars,” he said.
“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.