Producer and screenwriter Steven Spielberg, a three-time Oscar winner, criticized the #OscarsSoWhite movement and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in an interview Thursday, saying he sees no “inherent or dormant racism” in the Academy.
Spielberg went on to say he doesn’t “100 percent support” the Academy’s drastic rule changes to usher more diversity into the organization, though he did say he was surprised “Straight Outta Compton” did not receive a Best Picture nomination and that actor Idris Elba failed to capture a nomination for his role in Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation.”
But, according to the Hollywood heavyweight, those perceived snubs have nothing to do with the Academy, adding that in 2013, Lupita Nyong’o was recognized for her role in “12 Years a Slave,” the film that won Best Picture that year. Rather, Spielberg says the #OscarsSoWhite problem is actually rooted in a lack of diversity among filmmakers, screenwriters and studio executives.
“I think we have to stop pointing fingers and blaming the Academy. It’s people that hire, it’s people at the main gate of studios and independents. It’s the stories that are being told,” Spielberg told the Hollywood Reporter. It’s who’s writing diversity — it starts on the page. And we all have to be more proactive in getting out there and just seeking talent.”
Spielberg, whose film “Bridge of Spies” received a Best Picture nod this year, said he has always worked to be very inclusive in his filmmaking.
“Look, I have two black children, you know? I’ve been colorblind my entire life,” he said. “When you just look at the films I’ve made, and look at the people who’ve worked on those films — look at the diversity within the crew, within the cast — I’ve always [had it].”
The filmmaker also voiced opposition to the Academy’s rule changes, particularly criticizing the new rule that limits the voting rights of members who have been “active” in filmmaking for at least a 10-year period.
“I’m also not 100 percent sure that taking votes away from Academy members who have paid their dues and maybe are retired now and have done great service — maybe they’ve not won a nomination, which would have given them immunity to the new rules, but they have served proudly and this is their industry too — to strip their votes? I’m not 100 percent behind that,” Spielberg said.
However, he did say he believes it is “very, very important” that the Academy is working toward greater diversity “in a proactive way.”
Hollywood stars Will Smith and Spike Lee are pledging to protest this year’s Oscars, and, in response to the boycott plans of several celebrities, the Academy overhauled its current voting rules and organizational structure, promising to double the number of female and minority members by 2020.
The 88th Academy Awards will air Sunday, Feb. 28. on ABC.
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