Middle Eastern Actress Shohreh Aghdashloo Praises Diversity at the Oscars: 'It's Getting Better and Better'

The Expanse actress says of the red carpet, "It looks like a tapestry of the mid-century"

A year after a ceremony marred by controversy over the lack of diverse nominees, actress Shohreh Aghdashloo says she’s pleased with the representation at the 2017 Academy Awards.

Aghdashloo – who was born in Iran – tells PEOPLE Deputy Editor JD Heyman on the Los Angeles red carpet, “Tonight, looking at the red carpet and all the beautiful shades of brown, black and white. It looks gorgeous.”

“It looks like a tapestry of the mid-century and it’s getting better and better,” the 64-year-old adds.

She says that the “reflection” of diversity on the silver screen “wasn’t enough” before. “It was up to the producers to reflect this and now they’re doing it,” she says.

Aghdashloo also praises her own show – The Expanse – for including characters of varied gender, ethnicity and age. “In terms of diversity, it’s the most diversified show I’ve ever seen,” she says.

89th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
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2017 marks the first time in the Academy’s history that black actors have been nominated in every acting category — Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress — at the same time.

Films like Fences, Hidden Figures, Moonlight and Lion all figured prominently in this year’s nominations — and each scored a Best Picture nod. All feature diverse casts and crews, and have found critical acclaim as well as box-office success last year.

In addition, several of the nominees in other categories are from the Middle East – including some of the countries named in President Trump’s travel ban. Syrian cinematographer Khaled Khateeb, who worked on Best Documentary Short-nominated film The White Helmets, was barred from traveling to Los Angeles for the ceremony on Sunday by the Department of Homeland Security, reported Time.

Syrian refugee Hala Kamil, who is the subject of another short nominee, Watani: My Homeland, walked on the red-carpet, Sunday, after initial fears that she too would be blocked entry.

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi – who is nominated for his film The Salesman – opted not to attend the Oscars in protest of the ban.

PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly’s Red Carpet Live streaming pre-show is giving fans an inside look into this year’s Oscars. PEOPLE Deputy Editor Heyman and Lola Ogunnaike, host of PEOPLE/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN’s) Entertainment Weekly: The Show, will be on the red carpet in L.A. while PEOPLE Now hosts Jeremy Parsons and Andrea Boehlke will lead the panel discussions from our N.Y.C. studio with the Time Inc. experts. And PEOPLE and EW editorial director Jess Cagle will give a behind-the-scenes look at Oscars prep.

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Watch the PEOPLE and EW Red Carpet Live Oscars pre-show on Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app on your favorite device. Then watch our Red Carpet Fashion Wrap-Up after the Oscars!

With PEOPLE’s Oscars Fan Experience, viewers can participate by sending in videos about their favorites to win an Oscar to Burst.com/Oscars. Through the Oscars Fan Experience Sweepstakes, hundreds of VIP subscribers will sit in front-row seats at the Oscars red carpet, followed by an exclusive viewing party right across the street from the ceremony.

The Academy Awards kicks off live on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 26, with a 7 p.m. ET pre-show and 8:30 p.m. ceremony. See all the Oscar nominees and get your own ballot here!

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