Charlotte Rampling, a Best Actress Academy Awards nominee for her performance in drama 45 Years, has weighed in on the Oscars diversity boycott, saying the backlash over an all-white acting nominee list is "racist to whites." "One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list," Rampling told French Radio network Europe 1 on Friday, The Guardian reports.
Asked whether the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should introduce a diversity quota, the actress responded, "Why classify people? These days everyone is more or less accepted ... People will always say: 'Him, he's less handsome'; 'Him, he’s too black'; 'He is too white' ... someone will always be saying 'You are too' [this or that] ... But do we have to take from this that there should be lots of minorities everywhere?"
Presented with the reality that many African-Americans feel like minorities in the film industry, Rampling offered a "no comment."
Following this year's Oscar nomination announcements, which spawned the popular hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, controversy rippled throughout the industry. Both Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith announced they would boycott the event, and Oscars president Cheryl Boone Isaacs admitted she's "heartbroken and frustrated by the lack of inclusion."
"This is a difficult but important conversation, and it's time for big changes," Isaacs said in a statement. "The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond."
For the second straight year, all 20 Academy Award acting nominees are white. Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárittu, Mexico-born director of Best Picture nominee The Revenant, is the only minority in any major category.
The boycott even earned commentary from Donald Trump during an interview with Fox & Friends. "This is not one of those years, but over the years I've seen numerous black actors and African-American actors receive Academy Awards, and I think that's great," he said.
The Republican frontrunner also addressed Oscars criticisms from Al Sharpton, who'd previously stated, "Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains: the higher up you get, the whiter it gets. And this year’s Academy Awards will be yet another Rocky Mountain Oscars."
"When Al Sharpton's jumping up and down, people say, 'Well, give me a break. I think it's really sad. And Al is just a guy who wants to get publicity for himself,'" Trump said. "And I understand him very well."