Following last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy — when only white actors and actresses were among those nominated in the four acting categories for the second year in a row — the 46-year-old actress explains that more films about minorities need to be made in the first place.
“I think that people really are putting the label of diversity in the wrong spots,” Spencer explains in an interview with PEOPLE Now alongside costars Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monáe. “Diversity starts when you’re casting films, when you’re greenlighting films. I think putting that at Oscars’ feet when it’s the end of the road — that’s the frosting on the cake if you get nominated for Oscars. We want to get these movies greenlit.”
Spencer, an Oscar winner herself for her role in 2011’s The Help, says that no matter what an actor’s ethnicity is, their success should be celebrated.
“No one wants to diminish the achievement of anyone who gets nominated, whether they’re black, white, Asian, Latin,” she says. “You want to applaud that achievement.”
However, Spencer hopes more movies starring women and people of different ethnicity make their way into Hollywood.
“It’s a decision-making process,” she says.
Her Hidden Figures costar Kevin Costner says that the fact that their new movie about black women who helped launch the first American astronauts into space with their precise calculations was not about making a movie about race — it was simply a wonderful story.
“This movie wasn’t made to satisfy somebody’s quotient,” the 61-year-old actor explains. “This movie was made because the script spoke to actors, the root material inspired a great writer and a great director, and a studio was brave enough to make it.”