In an interview with Essence conducted before the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Rock talks about inequality in Hollywood

By Andrea Park
Updated February 04, 2016 12:40 AM

Oscars host Chris Rock has been struggling with the lack of diversity in Hollywood long before the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

He discusses the debate in his cover story for the newest issue of Essence, in an interview that was conducted in December, a month before news of the controversy broke. Rock also talks about how he’s taken it upon himself to create more diversity in movies and TV.

“I’ve never done a movie, any movie, the silliest movie, where someone, some studio person, hasn’t gone, ‘Does the girl have to be Black?’ ” he says. “It happens every time.”

Rock, 50, continues, “Black women get paid less than everybody in Hollywood. Everyone’s talking about Jennifer Lawrence. Talk to Gabrielle Union. If you want to hear stories, talk to Nia Long. Talk to Kerry Washington. They would love to get to Jennifer Lawrence’s place, or just be treated with the same amount of respect.”

Black women, the comedian says, “are the least represented on-screen. They just are. You can go see a lot of movies and there’s not one Black woman in there with, like, a real part. It’s a real, real, real problem.”

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His solution?

“I think everything I’ve ever done has had a significant role for a Black or brown woman. I refuse not to,” he says. “I’ve never gone into battle without a Black woman, you know, a movie battle.”

Rock also discusses the comedic legacy he’ll leave behind.

“I was with Seinfeld the other day,” he shares. “We were like, what we got? Five years? Six years? Literally. That’s not saying making a living. It’s saying, how much long do you have where people are going to care what you say?”

Essence‘s March Hollywood Issue also features its honorees for the 9th annual Black Women in Hollywood awards luncheon – Tracee Ellis Ross, Debbie Allen and entertainment lawyer Nina Shaw. The event takes place Feb. 25.