With the forthcoming Academy Awards still reeling from a proposed boycott and other repercussions following a second straight year without a minority acting nominee, President Barack Obama discussed the issue that’s tearing through Hollywood and whether it’s emblematic of the nation as a whole. “I think the Oscar debate is really just an expression of this broader issue: Are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?,” Obama asked.
“I think that California is an example of the incredible diversity of this country. That’s a strength. I think that when everyone’s story is told … that makes for better art,” Obama told reporters at the White House Wednesday. “It makes for better entertainment; it makes everybody feel part of one American family, so I think as a whole the industry should do what every other industry should do which is to look for talent, provide opportunity to everybody.”
On the campaign trail in Iowa, Hillary Clinton also touched on the Oscars controversy as well as the Academy’s promise to make “historic” changes to their membership by doubling its number of women and minorities by 2020. “I think it is overdue, but the Academy announced that they are going to be making some changes, as they should,” Clinton told AOL. “Just think of the great films that not only display the diversity of America, but the diversity of the human experience. The Academy has to catch up with our reality.”
The situation in Hollywood and the lack of diversity among the top tier of Academy Awards nominees inspired Oscars host Chris Rock to rip up his original opening monologue and write material confronting the issue head on.
“The Academy is ready for him to do that,” Oscars producer Reginald Hudlin recently said in an interview. “They’re excited about him doing that. They know that’s what we need. They know that’s what the public wants, and we deliver what the people want.”
The Oscars ceremony broadcasts live on February 28th.