Director Steve McQueen says the #OscarSoWhite problem isn’t so much with the Academy, but with the film industry as a whole.
McQueen, the only black director to helm a Best Picture winner, 12 Years a Slave, said that in order to see diversity among Oscar nominees, the change must begin by diversifying the types of movies that are being produced.
“One could talk about percentages of certain people who are Academy members and the demographics and so forth, but the real issue is movies being made,” he told The Guardian. “Decisions being made by heads of studios, TV companies and cable companies about what is and is not being made. That is the start. That is the root of the problem.”
The director, 46, said he hopes that this can serve as a turning point for the film industry.
“I’m hoping in 12 months or so we can look back and say this was a watershed moment, and thank God we put that right,” he said.
McQueen is the latest Hollywood heavyweight to address the firestorm of criticism after the Academy announced an all-white acting nominations list for the second consecutive year.
After weeks of backlash, the Academy announced on Friday a “sweeping series of substantive changes” in order to make its “membership, its governing bodies and its voting members significantly more diverse.”
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said the new guidelines are “a step in the right direction” to help solve the diversity issue.
“It means more inclusion,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “It means inviting in women, non-whites, more diverse group of filmmakers, international, young. All that meet the criteria of the Academy.”
She also admitted that when the list of nominees was released, she predicted there would be some controversy, but never expected it get this big.
“I knew it would be a story obviously, but wow!” Isaacs said. “It’s kind of like if you have a hit movie but you don’t really know how big the box office is going to be.”
While some actors have been outraged with the lack of diversity among nominees – even deciding to skip the ceremony altogether – others have seen it as a call to action.
John Krasinski, who helped announce the 2016 nominees, spoke out about the issue, saying that while he understands the backlash, he also sees the good that can come from having open conversations about diversity.
“Pushing diversity forward is not only a major step that we all need to take, but it’s a responsibility that we should be doing all around,” Krasinski told The Hollywood Reporter at the Sundance Film Festival.
He continued: “So as disappointing as I think it is to hear about the Oscars and the lack of diversity in the announcements, I think it’s a nice call to arms for the rest of our business to be talking about what movies we’re making, who we’re allowing to direct that, who we’re allowing to be in the stories we’re trying to tell.”
Meanwhile, actress Julie Delpy found herself under fire after asserting that women have a harder time within the film industry and that she wishes she “were African American because people don t bash them afterward.” “It’s the hardest to be a woman,” she added. “Feminists is something people hate above all.”
On Saturday, the actress changed her tune, apologizing for her comments.
“I’m very sorry for how I expressed myself,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “It was never meant to diminish the injustice done to African American artists or to any other people that struggle for equal opportunities and rights, on the contrary. All I was trying to do is to address the issues of inequality of opportunity in the industry for women as well (as I am a woman). I never intended to underestimate anyone else s struggle!”